In Kazakhstan the kids were very excited on the 25th of May in 2012 because that is the day that this school year finished. You remember what that feels like – no more classes or homework – like a great weight has been lifted off of you and you can suddenly leap and run around again. Kids everywhere feel that way because the pressure to perform academically has been lifted. What started out to be the freedom of universal literacy where information is accessible to all has become a very pressing prison of you-better-do-well-or-you’ll-never-get-anywhere. It was a really generous idea that everybody should have access to the information found in print but it has turned into the nightmare before adulthood. That is why the yearly release from this drudgery was such a joyous and riotous celebration.
I just happened to be there this day at one of the places the kids picked to express their relief in a riot of activity they would not normally consider doing under any other circumstances. It is a normally fashionable fountain that has something to do with a calendar because it is divided in seven sections, one for each day of the week. On this day, some of them still wearing their sashes for academic achievement, the kids came in groups and many of them jumped in the water wearing their school uniforms. Most of the kids in the water, some with their shoes still on, didn’t come wearing sashes. The “sashes” group was more sedate and reserved seeming although some of them had bathing suits under their clothes, which they used when they got in the water with their classmates still in uniform. The “sashes” group didn’t seem inclined to abandon all decorum to celebrate as the rest of their classmates did.
I was intrigued by the social division because it was so visible and took some pictures with my phone to document the occasion. I hope you enjoy seeing what I saw.