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A diplomat from the United States about introducing Kazakhstanis to real America

Lance Erickson

Hometown — Chicago, deputy attache for culture and education


A diplomat from the United States about introducing Kazakhstanis to real America

About life

I studied Russian at the university and worked in Russia for a long time. I visited Kazakhstan several times at the beginning of 2000. I worked in Almaty, visited Karaganda and the new capital. I got my first impressions of the country due to Almaty. It was winter, beautiful snowfall, which looks amazing in the background of the mountains.


I started my career as a diplomat in 2012. Before Kazakhstan, I worked in Moscow and Sofia. I have been living in Nur-Sultan for a year and a half.

Before moving to Kazakhstan, I've been discussing with my wife which country to go to not only for work but also for our family. We wanted to have good schools and kindergartens where children could learn Russian. Kazakhstan seemed a fitting country. We liked it here so much that we extended our stay from two to three years.

About the work of a diplomat

At the U.S. Embassy, I work on cultural programs. Many people are forming the wrong idea about America because of Hollywood movies. We share a portion of real America with the people of Kazakhstan. We have invited musical groups, professional athletes, speakers, authors, astronauts, dancers. We organized open meetings where people met and communicated with them.

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I also do educational programs. I work with universities in the USA and Kazakhstan. I give Kazakhstanis the possibility to learn about study opportunities in the United States.

We have many programs that we implement in major cities of Kazakhstan: Almaty, Shymkent, Aktau, Atyrau, Aktobe, Karaganda, Pavlodar, Ust-Kamenogorsk. We share American culture with all Kazakhstan residents.

I have the best job at the Embassy. I work with rock bands and astronauts, and I'm communicating with teachers and students. Besides, we have an amazing team.

We share a portion of real America with the people of Kazakhstan

As a diplomat, you are always in eyesight: at events, receptions, meetings, in the office or store. You are a representative of your country 24/7.

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My job includes a lot of traveling around Kazakhstan. Here many beautiful places. Even though I can't spend time with my family during working trips, I really enjoy them.

About the city

I have an amazing wife and two beautiful sons. We like walking together in the capital's parks, especially in summer and autumn. Nur-Sultan is a city for family holidays.

We love sports and attend hockey and basketball games.

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There's a beautiful mosque opposite the Embassy. I like to go there and walk around.

Due to cultural programs, I often visit the National Museum. We had an exhibition with National Geographic there. We have been bringing dancers to Astana Ballet. I like these places.

About people

People in Kazakhstan are warm, friendly and welcoming. If you meet someone and you become friends, you will definitely be invited home or to a wedding. It's like you're becoming part of the family. It is similar to the Americans. If we are friends with someone, it is always a close relationship.

People in Kazakhstan are warm, friendly and welcoming

We have been to a Kazakh wedding. It's different from weddings in America. The biggest difference was the toast, which went non-stop. The bride and groom had to stand, but they heard many pleasant words. In America, people only say a couple of toasts from the best man and the bridesmaid. And we have less food, but a lot of dancing.

About programs

We have the opportunity to send two students from Kazakhstan to a space camp in summer. Kazakhstan is one of the six countries that is given such an opportunity. The participants had to make a video about why they want to go to the space camp, how it can help Kazakhstan and what they will do when they return.

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More than 100 teenagers aged 15-18 years sent videos. Now the second stage of selection undergoing, we have selected 10 finalists from 10 different cities of Kazakhstan. We will interview them to decide who will go to the camp. The trip is fully paid by the U.S. government.

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