My family’s transition from Astana, Kazakhstan, to western New York
By Micah Ford
It was around this time last year that my dad, a high school teacher at QSI International School of Astana, realized the poor health condition of his mom in the small town of Angelica where she lived with her husband, a pastor. The thought of moving after 12 years overseas to help my grandma and grandpa struck his mind for the very first time.
Fast forward to November, our family made the choice: we were moving. When fully grasped, the news hit all of us (my parents, six siblings, and myself) hard from different angles; emotion overwhelmed us. We mourned what was going to be the end of our twelve years overseas (seven in Yemen, five in Kazakhstan), but we were looking forward to a new life, encouraged by my Dad’s parents and the idea of being in the country in which I was born.
Yet, amidst the stunning news, our family had to strive to have a meaningful year academically at the prestigious school we were attending. And that I did; I enjoyed and exceeded in all my classes, learning everything I could from each area. By the time of the end of year exams, I was very busy with a lot of activities inside and outside of school, but I still managed to perform at a good level for each of the important exams.
By that time, my Mom was diligently packing most of our belongings, selling all she could, being active at the school as the Parent Support Group president, and cooking the family’s long loved delicious meals every day. Meanwhile, my dad was trying his best to close all his students’ classes, a tremendously difficult task as he was a very hard teacher to pass. Through hard effort in grading every last paper and trying to teach to the best of his ability, my Dad made it to the end of the year successfully, and he was able to leave without any leftover work or regrets in mind.
As full time students with after-school sports to attend, my siblings and I were focused on having a great last year and were kept distracted from dragging ourselves down at the thoughts of what would become of us in the oncoming future. Our last goodbyes to long time buddies and new friends were hard, but we made it through.
Upon arrival in Buffalo, New York, we were greeted by my grandpa and one of his brothers. That moment was not a new one, because of the twice-a-year visits to grandparents. But what was different was that we knew we weren’t returning to the airport to fly back to Kazakhstan, and that was a big blow from the time we got to the airport in Astana.
Since we had not bought or rented a house before arrival, we stayed in the parsonage next to the church where my grandpa is a pastor. We started our transition there, and within a couple of weeks, we were familiar with a large area around the new town, Angelica. Most of us started getting involved in sports at a YMCA in a different town while my brother and I, sometimes with the help of an occasional relative, helped our uncle build his own house. Triumphantly, it is almost finished after a long and hard summer’s toil working on it. But through that, we could not blindly ignore why we had moved there, and so we made visits to our grandma’s house for company and encouragement.
Yet, from the moment we decided to move to western New York, we were haunted by the start of a new school year, one away from Kazakhstan. We would be transitioning from a private-highschool with only seventy-eighty students to a public highschool with over 300 students . Our first-day expectations were for the day to pass slowly, and to be very confusing and overwhelming. However, to our surprise, most of the teachers as well as a large group of students already knew our family was coming, and were very welcoming and friendly to us, helping us out by showing us around and telling us where certain classrooms were. In that we were very thankful. To come to an end, here we are, in the second week of school, fully provided for, fully prepared, and fully present for the year ahead of us.
Hi, Micah. This is Haleena from Yemen. I don’t know if you remember me, but I’ve been trying to find a way to get back in contact with you guys. It’s good to know you guys are in New York! Please, please, please, if you see this, get in contact with me. I’ll give you an e-mail or a good phone number and I’d love nothing more than to see you guys again.
Lots of love.