Astana Day volunteer finds herself catering to the stars10 june 2011, 15:30
Aziza Kalambayeva has been one of the biggest fans of the Astana Day celebrations that each year bring in big-name entertainers from around the world.
The 22-year-old senior at Eurasian National University has not only met a couple of superstars at the festivities, but has interacted with them as she catered to their needs.
Kalambayeva was an Astana Day volunteer in July of 2008 and 2010.
Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Culture works with the City of Astana to organize the cultural and entertainment portions of the annual extravaganzas, which fall not just on Astana’s anniversary day, July 6, but on several other days as well. Because the organizers schedule a hundred or so events on those days, one celebration requires thousands of volunteers like Kalambayeva.
Professors and Eurasian National University’s student leaders recommended in 2008 and 2010 that Kalambayeva be part of a select group of volunteers who would be helping performers.
One reason she was selected was that she’d shown initiative in student projects outside the classroom. A person who knows her thinks she was also selected because she’s mature and has a sunny disposition.
The first star that she and classmates Altinai Jorabayeva and Madina Saduakasova helped was the Kazakh singer Batyrkhan Shukenov, popularly known as Batyr. He was part of an entertainment lineup in 2008 that included American diva Whitney Houston.
Kalambayeva and her classmates were asked to arrange Batyr’s transportation to and from the concert venue, line up a stylist who could handle his makeup and wardrobe needs, and respond to his food, drink and other requests while he was in his dressing room.
Batyr was enjoying chatting in his room with another singer – the Russian pop star Dmitri Malikov – so Kalambayeva and her classmates didn’t see him that much. “He and Dmitri Malikov are friends,” Kalambayeva explained.
Batyr would pop his head out once in a while to make a courteous request for food or a beverage or ask when he was supposed to go on stage, Kalambayeva said.
At one point, she asked if she could have her photo taken with him. Kalambayeva proudly shows the photo to friends today.
She said that both she and her mother like Batyr’s music, and she also admires him “for his kindness and for his charity for children.”
Kalambayeva skipped being an Astana Day volunteer in 2009, but came back in 2010 to help the Italian opera and pop icon Andrea Bocelli.
In addition to lining up Bocelli’s stylist, she performed a task that made her nervous: Ironing the tuxedos and suits the singer would wear on-stage.
Bocelli performed four times around other acts. Kalambayeva ironed each of the four sets of jackets and trousers he wore.
“I was worried I would make a mistake every time,” she said.
But she didn’t, and before the evening was over, she took the opportunity of telling Bocelli that “he has the most beautiful voice in the world.”
Bocelli reacted with graciousness – a perfect gentleman, Kalambayeva said. And like Batyr, he agreed to her request for a photo with him.
With her Astana Day volunteering providing her with memories that will last a lifetime, you’d think Kalambayeva would be volunteering again this year.
But she hasn’t decided yet if she will.
That’s because she’s preparing for her university graduation and looking for a job. Both are taking up a lot of time, she said.
It’s tempting to volunteer again this year, though. If she did, she might be able to meet British performers Sarah Brightman and Sting, and the Canadian singer Lara Fabian.
And they’re just the headliners from the West. There will be many top acts from Kazakhstan and Russia, too.
Here’s my opinion, Aziza: You should volunteer again. Wouldn’t it be fun to iron Sting’s T-shirt?