The staff of the library gather on the front steps for a portrait on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the library. Niyaver Kurshutov, one of the founders of the library is in the center. To his right is Nadjie Yagya and Nadjie Tairova is the woman in the white jacket. I am the gray haired woman in the upper left corner.
September 24, 2010 was the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Library. Though the official celebration will be November 4-5, when there will be series of seminars and events with many international visitors from the Turkic speaking world, a local television station wanted to do a special program on the Library to be aired on the anniversary date. So the day before found the staff busily cleaning up the library, freshening up the displays and information boards, straightening the stacks, and all those other tasks to make a library sparkle for its anniversary. Later that afternoon, we all gathered in the reading hall, along with two of the original founders, Ayder Emirova, the director of the library for the last twenty years who only recently resigned to devote more time to other endeavors, and Niyaver Kurshutov, who was assistant director all those years and retired last year at the age of 70. Nadjie Yagya and Nadjie Tairova, who were also at the library from the beginning, are still part of the staff.
The founders sat in the front of the room and answered questions from the TV station reporter. At some point, Nadjie Yagya, who is my counterpart at the library, starting talking about the experience of having a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer at the library. And then the reporter turned to me and asked my impressions of working at the library. “In Russian?” I responded. “Well, of course,” she said. Yikes, I actually was going to have to talk in Russian on TV! My struggle to learn Russian has been the biggest stumbling block for me in my work here as a Peace Corps Volunteer. A few of the library staff speak a very limited English, and one of my activities here has been conducting an English class for some of the library staff, but for the most part, I have had to do almost all my communicating in Russian. But despite my surprise and awkwardness, I made an attempt to say how much I love working at the library and the people I work with and how important I think is the mission of the library. Though after stumbling along for a bit, I switched to English so I could really say what was in my heart, that it is a great privilege to have ended up at the Gasprinskiy Library as my volunteer site and to have Nadjie Yagya as my counterpart. What a wonderful gift it has been to learn about this rich and beautiful Crimean Tatar culture and to get to know some of its peoples. My fervent hope is that someday I will be able to communicate that appreciation of the Crimean Tatar culture and people to a wide audience of American people.