Where in the World?


Where in the world is Maddie?

That’s a good question.

Madeline is currently serving as a Health Education Volunteer in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan through the Peace Corps. You can learn more about the Peace Corps here. She is one of over 60 volunteers currently serving in the Kyrgyz Republic. You can find other current and former volunteers here.


 Kyrgyzstan, or the Kyrgyz Republic, is a country about the size of Nebraska in the heart of the Tien Shan mountains. Bordered by China, Tajikstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan lies on the ancient Silk Road and was a far outpost of the Soviet Union. In August of 1991, the Kyrgyz Republic was the first of the former Soviet Bloc to declare independence. It has since endured two revolutions and several reiterations of democratic change, as well as many ethnic clashes between the nationalities that call the Kyrgyz Republic home. In Kyrgyzstan, people speak Kyrgyz, a distant descendent of Turkic languages, and Russian, a holdover of Soviet Times.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries in Central Asia, suffering from the loss of markets and Soviet investment with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Dependent on agriculture and remittances, Kyrgyzstan suffers from an extensive “brain drain,” with many of its best and brightest leaving the country for higher paying jobs in neighboring countries, the United States, and Europe. This country is only one of a few in the world where literacy rates are expected to be falling, and unemployment in some villages are as high as 60-70%, particularly during the freezing winter months when temperatures drop far below 0°F.

Kyrgyzstan is known for its immense natural beauty and generous hospitality. The prides of Kyrgyzstan include, but are not limited to: Manas, an ancient hero who united the forty tribes to create the modern Kyrgyz Republic (and was also 10-feet tall), kymyz, fermented mare’s milk (tastes like slightly sour, sugary, carbonated milk), and Ulak Tyrtysh, a form of horse polo played with the carcass of a dead goat.

Have questions about Kyrgyzstan or life in the Kyrgyz Republic? Ask them here.

Image SOURCE: India 2007, MAP, FLAG