04 June 2008

Things I won’t miss about Bishkek, part 2

Too many men and women in uniform and this includes police, cadets, military, riot control, special units, who are everywhere you turn and appear to do little except train. Their numbers can only be justified as a huge public jobs program designed to reduce unemployment and provide armed support for a shaky government whose legitimacy is continually being challenged. Yet in spite of their overwhelming numbers, day-to-day police work, like traffic control, is remarkably deficient.

What I can only describe as remarkably unprofessional behavior among too many of the administrators at American University, their unwillingness accept responsibility for their own decisions, and a stubborn refusal to admit to any mistakes. I’ve given up trying to come up with a satisfactory “cultural” explanation.

As much as I enjoyed teaching at AUCA, I grew very tired of dealing with rampant student plagiarism, which is exacerbated by very different traditions of research in the post-Soviet educational model of Central Asia, and the university administration’s disinclination to comprehensively tackle a problem that increased noticeably during my two years.

A climate that is too gray, especially in the winter and, to my surprise, too humid in the summer.