As someone who spent the major part of his summer in Kazakhstan working in and around EXPO 2017. I think it’s important to share both my thoughts and experiences as well as feelings about this, especially as a foreigner.
To begin with, my connection to the expo goes back four years when this was still in the very early stages and it seemed like the entire country was still preparing. Throughout those years I would go to Kazakhstan and I would see the progress and the tremendous effort being made by the Kazakh government and its people as they prepared for what is to be one of this country’s biggest events thus far.
When I arrived earlier this summer I not only found the expo to be beautifully completed and efficiently functioning but I also found myself arriving into a beautiful and modern new airport with an amazing facility and highly educated and professional staff.
Everyone I meet spoke fluent and perfect English and if your main language was not English (for the first time ever since I have been visiting Kazakhstan) I also met many Kazakhs whose Spanish was better than my own, and if Spanish was not your language then many Kazakhs also spoke fluent German, Italian and countless other languages perfectly.
The Kazakh people representing Kazakhstan both at the airport and at the expo truly are a great example of both the excellence and incredible progress this country continues to make towards being the leader in future energy, smart city design, nuclear non-proliferation and a technologically advanced and modern society.
Everywhere I went, I was greeted with a warm smile, friendly hello and made to feel completely at home. The city of Astana (where the expo is being held) although it has always been a beautiful city, was transformed into a magnificent and modern metropolis where laser light shows, countless celebrations and fascinating events were held every night. Many world-famous artists such as DJ Aoki, David Guetta and Akon performed throughout the event. The beautifully designed architectural facilities are also a testament to how much this country continues to advance into the future.
Many of my friends and family always ask me about safety so let me be very clear: the level of safety, security and oversight in and around the country as well as the city itself made me feel safer than being in my own home! And yes, police were everywhere but they were all courteous and professional and always greeted me with a smile and very polite ‘hello.’
Although my work continues in this part of the world, I am truly and incredibly happy for the people of Kazakhstan and all the success they continue to achieve.
As someone who has traveled often to many different countries I continue to love both Kazakhstan and its people, not simply because of all the success they seem to be having but because even with all this success they remain humble, kind, hard working, welcoming and, above all, extremely proud of their culture.
Lastly, I really want to say ‘thank you so much’ to all my dear friends who greeted me while I was a visitor in your beautiful country, from meeting me at the airport, to never letting me pay for dinner, to showing me your beautiful Borovoye (Kazakhstan’s version of the Hamptons). You made me feel not simply like part of your family but like a true Kazakh!!! I hope someday to return the favour when you visit NYC in the future.
I love you, Kazakhstan!
The author is Director of Government Relations at CRM and Senior Vice President for International Trade & Development at GP International.