This week's Deep Human conversation took place in a lecture hall in Nazarbayev University during the Eurasian Higher Education Leaders Forum 2019, where I got to meet Baibussinova Zhadra Rakhymovna, who spoke to me about the challenges educated females face in a country that is still rapidly developing.
Crystal: Tell me about your first week at work...
Zhadra: It was for me really terrifying. The first week one of the students said to me "Can you tell me do you have a right to teach here in Higher Education Institution?" Who gave you this right, because you are too young?"
And I was so angry and I answered , "Mr. President Nazarbayev gave me this right to teach.”
They didn't understand my response. But I went on to tell them : "I graduated from Nazarbayev University. If I was given a chance to teach here, it means that I can.
Maybe I'm not that experienced, but I have a little bit more knowledge than you. That's why you need to listen to me."
But the first week or two, jt was real challenging because of the perceptions about a young female teacher.
Many told me, "You're too young," and they wanted the previous teacher to come back because they felt they need a teacher who was much mature, maybe experienced and looked older.
It took me for about eight months maybe to get on well with all the students because the first week some of them accepted me immediately but some didn't. One student didn't want to take the test that I was designing! She told me "I think these questions don't meet my expectations."
Crystal: It sounds like they were trying to assess you!
Crystal. Wow, what a challenging situation.
Zhadra: And I would say that it was, challenging, but it took me a time to adapt to adjust.
I spoke to my class and told them, in the past students had to earn respect from the teachers. But nowadays in some higher education institutions, this is vice versa. Teachers, they are those who need to work hard to get respect from the students.
And all the students, they agreed with me and now we get on well.
And you remember the lady who told me that she didn't want to take the test? It ended up that over the year she made time to talk to me, and she even said at the end of the year, "You are the one who can support me outside the classroom." And I was like, "Oh my God."
I took this challenge and I think that maybe it didn't work perfectly, but it was a great experience, I would say.
Crystal: Sounds like a great experience for you and for her that you helped her overcome her bias.
Crystal: It's wonderful. Thank you for sharing that with me. That was so meaningful.
Deep Human Conversations is a series of conversations with people who we've met on our travels who inspire us with their stories of overcoming challenges and adapting to the brave new world
Conversation with Baibussinova Zhadra Rakhymovna in Nur-Sultan, Nazarbayev University. As told to Crystal Lim-Lange.