All Peace Corps Volunteers (including myself) left Kazakhstan the last week in November. In mid-Nov, all volunteers received a phone call from our kazakh managers telling us the Kaz program was being closed and we had one week to say goodbye to our friends and family, finish any running projects, and pack all our things.
I was in disbelief and it did not seem real that all of us would really have to leave our schools and towns. It was very difficult to say goodbye to everyone especially since volunteers had been working in Ust-Kamenogorsk since 1995. I wrote this in next sentence in an email to friends shortly after I found out about us leaving "I am devastated, upset, and sad like many people here in Kazakhstan. Basically we have been told that in 7 days we have to say goodbye to many friends and coworkers we may never see again. "
I still had about a year left in my scheduled 27 month service. Peace Corps has given us the option to re-enroll in another program in another country. But at this point it is something I am not interested in for personal reasons.
Right now the Kazakhstan program is currently "suspended" so it is possible for Peace Corps to reopen like other countries have in the past. But Kazakhstan couldn't really open back up for at least one year.
Why? Is the question a lot of people ask. There are two big reasons: 1) Some elements of the Kazakhstan government did not want Peace Corps in their country. In the last year, those elements have grown stronger to the point where over the last 6 months it was very difficult for volunteers to work and live normal lives. 2) In the last year there was a spike in the number of sexual assaults against female volunteers. Nobody is really able to explain why this happened. For 18 years, volunteers worked in Kazakhstan without major problems, but then this past year a big number of female volunteers were attacked.
What I am doing next in my life? Well today I am going to get a Christmas tree with my family to celebrate my first Christmas at home since 2008.