“Aq Zhailau” is a new place to explore Kazakh culture

The Kazakh Cultural Resource Room “Aq Zhailau” recently opened at Nazarbayev University. The opening of Aq Zhailau was a student-led initiative, made possible with the cooperation and support of the Academy of Innovative Intellectual Technologies and Nazarbayev University management.

The steppe holds an important place in Kazakh culture and imagination, it is not only the main source of wealth, but also symbolizes eternity and the dynamism of life. The steppe is also associated with freedom and creativity, endurance and patience, space and energy. When picking the name for the room it was important to capture these ideas in a phrase that would mean something in the Kazakh cultural code, and this is why the name “Aq Zhailau” was chosen.

The opening ceremony was attended by a wide range of guests including the NU Vice-President for Student Affairs and International Cooperation Kadisha Dairova, the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Daniel Pugh, NU professors, graduates, students and employees.

In her welcoming remarks, Vice-President Kadisha Dairova said that this new room “will be a place to unite the whole community of Nazarbayev University: students, graduates and young professionals, teaching staff who want to learn about Kazakh traditions, customs and culture”.

Professor Gultas Kurmanbay, Director for NU Cultural Center “Rukhani zhangyru” noted how important this space is for preserving national identity and culture.  A welcoming place to learn about culture and heritage can be helpful in the development of an individual’s personality, and in this respect, the value of this office, especially to the younger generation of Kazakhstan, cannot be overestimated.  This space is always open to anyone who wants to know about the heritage of the Great Steppe. 

“Aq Zhailau” guests will be able to see national decorations of a Kazakh home, play musical instruments, learn to play national games and read from a vast collection of Kazakh literature. The room is equipped to show films and listen to music. It is expected that the room will become a favorite meeting place for the university community – a platform for exchange of experience, discussion of ideas and initiatives. In “Aq Zhailau”, NU students, staff, teachers and guests will be able to hold exhibitions and literary evenings, learn the Kazakh language, read and discuss books, and watch videos about Kazakhstan.