International Travel-  5 Lessons Learned

 Here are some lessons learned on my trip to Kazakhstan with Leadership Wisconsin Group 16:

1. Take the risk- Assumptions will be broken. 

I had so many fears about going to Kazakhstan. It is a ‘Stan’ country after all so it must be the enemy, right? It’s not. I met an amazing Kazakh-Russian host, Ann. I was so nervous and it was the best experience possible. I now have a new friend across the world. 

2. Dress with pride. 

The people are very friendly and I have noticed that no matter their income level they dress with class. No one walks outside in their sweats. I have learned even more the importance if having pride in the way you dress and look. It might be the only nice clothes they have and they will make sure they are looking nice. 

3. Pride in the USA

I am proud to be an American. I am even more proud to be from a free country and have unlimited opportunities available to me to pick the life I choose! We are blessed! Use these opportunities! Be grateful!

4. Humanity comes first- Never repeat past tragedies. 

Make the world a better place. The #1 thing I want to do is take what I’ve learned and use to to make the world better. What can I do, what can we do? Have you helped someone in need? We saw some very sad things that happened in Kazakh and past soviet history that should never be repeated. My hope is that we instill the value of humanity into the people around us. 

5. Pride in what you have. 

Be proud of what you have. Love what you have and stop brooding over what you don’t have. We take so many luxuries for granted. A car, a bed, electricity and running water. Many parts of the world do not have these available to them. Remember that!

I’m grateful for this experience and feel moved by it.I want to create positive change and help others. I want to see how we can all make the world a little better for those around us. 

While I couldn’t make a life living abroad because I love Wisconsin and the Midwest USA too much, I definitely feel like I’ve been bitten by the travel bug after going on this trip to Kazakhstan. I want to see other places. It is interesting to learn more about the world around us!

Happy Trails!



Happy Nauryz!

  Nauryz is a very important holiday for Kazakhs, which marks the beginning of a new year. It is celebrated several days starting from 21st of March, the day of the spring equinox. Nauryz means ‘new day’, it is celebrated in the Great Steppes from ancient times. (

Leadership Wisconsin purposely planned our international trip during this time of year so we could be in Kazakhstan during their countries biggest holiday. It was great fun. As Americans we stuck out very easily as the locals kept asking to take pictures with us. Not many Americans travel to Kazakhstan apparently so we are an oddity! We enjoyed great music and cultural learning. We enjoyed a meal in a Yurt which is a place where native Kazakhs used to live. Similar to the Native American teepee. It was a lot of fun.  We also went to a school in a very rural village that looks like it is in the early 1900s where we listened to musical performances from locals playing Kazakh instruments made of wood and horse hair.


Very beautiful costumes and great cultural experience! 

Happy Trails!



Aggies in Kazakhstan

Leadership Wisconsin Group 16 has gotten a unique experience to visit a horse dairy farm in Kazakhstan! It was pretty unique to see a 75 horse barn with a pipeline overhead! We got to try horse meat and milk as a result. Meat tastes like roast beef and the milk tastes like fermented buttermilk. Very interesting. We also got to enjoy Caviar and handmade pastries. Wheat and horse meat/milk is what Kazakhstan is known for. Lots of firsts! 

Glad to have gotten to bring out my Aggie side and learn about agriculture in Kazakhstan!


Foodies in Kazakhstan

I have found foodies in Kazakhstan! I am so lucky to have such an amazing host, Ann. She has been so gracious to take me into her home and make me the most amazing food ever. The first night we made Borsh together.  

 It is a Russian dish with fresh chicken and chicken stock, grated beet root, sliced potato, sliced boiled egg and some sour cream on top. It is amazing. 

She also makes this excellent tea from dried fruit, fresh herbs and tea leaves.  

 Tonight, some of her friends came over and we all made Sushi. I have never made sushi before so this was a great experience! We also made fresh salads, a cake and coffee with ice cream. Everything was amazing! 

During the day today, Ann took me all around Pavlodar to see the sights. We first went to the cathedral that she attends, then walked by the Ertish River, stopped for coffee and cheesecake and ended with some shopping at the local mall area. I found out she loves taking pictures. We are so much alike we even wear the same size clothes and shoes as she wanted me to wear an entire outfit from her wardrobe today! Complete with cute clutch. We had a fabulous day! 


Glad to have found foodies and a great friend in Kazakhstan!

Back country and bath houses!

 St. Patty’s day in Kazakhstan! Celebrated my Irish-by-marriage history by seeing some great countryside in Kazakhstan today. Simply GORGEOUS. Snow capped mountains leading to an internationally renowned winery “Arba Winery in the Assa Vally”. We were treated to a delicious meal for lunch with all local foods. So good!! We also got to see small rural villages that remind me of a time long ago. Horses and horned cattle roaming free, donkeys pulling carts of vegetables and stucco huts with tin roofs. Back in Almaty a few of us ventured out to a famous bath house. Amazing! Best massage ever! Something that cost $40 here would cost $500 at home. Seriously amazing. Ok gotta go! Stay tuned for more later!




We made it to Kazakhstan

  Kazak National Agrarian University

Leadership Wisconsin Group 16 made it to Kazakhstan! The flight was an endurance test, for sure. We are glad to have made it. We have toured a few beautiful parks with beautiful arches and trees. We also got the chance to see a Russian Orthodox Cathedral with very ornate paintings and while visiting the Kazakhstan Museum of Folk Instruments we enjoyed our own personal concert to hear folk instruments like the dombra! Very neat. We also heard from University leaders at the University of International Business as well as the Kazakh National Agrarian University. The main agriculture crop in Kazakhstan is wheat. One of my favorite parts so far was the 20-30 minute gondola ride through the Tien Shan mountains the border Kazakshan and China. People from all over the world come there to ski and snowboard. It was beautiful!  Looking forward to more adventures!

Leadership Wisconsin goes to Kazakhstan!

Kazakhstan Map

Today, our Leadership Wisconsin group is blasting off into the unknown and heading for the country of Kazakhstan for 2 weeks! I have included a map so you can see where this country is. Not many have heard of it other than through the movie Borat. It is the 9th largest country in the world and part of central Asia. It used to be part of the Soviet Union until the early 90s. We will be learning of local and national issues, economics, agriculture, energy and sustainability. We will be learning about how this relatively new country has developed over the last 20 years and how people are starting to branch out and start businesses as entrepreneurs for the first time in Kazakh history! I’m personally looking forward to learning about that aspect as an entrepreneur myself! We will be touring many sites and famous places. It should be a once in a lifetime experience! Wish us well and stay tuned for more!

Happy Trails!