All posts by ayanairis

How should we teach languages?


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Once I was told that there are more interesting lessons in English, but the lessons of Kazakh and Russian are almost the same. At that time I realized that these words might have a true line in our context. There is a debate about teaching the Kazakh and Russian languages among education professionals. As a person, who came through primary, secondary, and undergraduate levels of education in Russian and English, I am not as proficient in Kazakh as I wish. The reasons for that could be numerous. I would like to elaborate on one – teaching methods.

Remembering the lessons of English, where I was motivated to learn and participate in activities, it was a different situation when the time comes to talk about Kazakh and Russian language classrooms. Mostly, teaching methods of Kazakh and Russian include learning something by heart, reading and retelling, memorizing words and grammar, writing essays, etc. A Grammar Translation Method (GTM) prevails. Grammar Translation Method is not an inadequate method; the outcome could be fantastic if mixing it with other approaches.  There is no diversification of methods and techniques which could motivate students to learn a language, even unconsciously. As it turns out, some students learn a language for the sake of getting marks.

It is not the same situation with lessons of the English language. They inspired me, and I wanted to become a teacher of English. When I had been studying in a Pedagogical Institute, we had a course dedicated to different methods of teaching English. For instance, instead of the stated in the previous paragraph meaningless tasks, teachers may add case studies, surveys, pair and group projects, jigsaw activity, role play, problem solving activities, interviews, skits, diverse games, and many other interactive tasks. I understood that there are many of them to use in a classroom. Why do not teachers of Kazakh and Russian adopt some of them during classes?  I also came across one chapter from a book “Methods and Approaches of English language Teaching”, which could serve as a basis for all language teachers. It consists of the explanation and usage of 18 various methods and approaches in the English language classrooms, including GTM.

I believe if teachers of the Kazakh and Russian languages use diverse methods of teaching, it could help solve some difficulties appearing with a lack of proficiency in these languages. Many sources about teaching methods are in English, but I am ready to contribute in translating and sharing it with willing teachers. The idea for this blog post takes roots from my own experience. I would like to know if you have ever faced with this problem. Have you had the same experience or not?

Is it possible not to overload yourself, but CREATE? Calling for MOTIVATION!


Photo credit to @uaxi

  Wake up, warm up.
  Take a mirror, ‘show up’.
  Breathe in, breathe out.
  You will have a great start!

The poems credit in this blog post to Ayana Mukuzhanova

Have you ever thought that you are overwhelmed with all your assignments and writing thesis? Do you wake up and go to sleep with the only thought: “I must do it!” ? You would better say “I want to do it!”. Now I would like to tell you one important sentence. You are not the only one, YOU CAN DO IT! Is it easy to say? Yes, it is. Is it easy to do? (Silence). By writing this post, which is far from academic writing, I would like to support all education professionals who are struggling to write their thesis and papers. I know, this time will probably hit you one day. I am not an expert to give recommendations, but I am a Master student, who could share some pieces of advice and speak from my own experience.

  Great start, heads up!
  Simply have a try out.
  You are making it up,
  And get rid of that doubt.

Firstly, try to see positive moments in your study, follow your OWN progress, and look back. Do you see the changes? This should MOTIVATE you and bring a positive wave into your studying. Do not try to compare your progress with the progress of another person. You are unique, you are different, and you are great!

  You have done, well done!
  Now let’s visit the town.
  Take some time to relax,
  You deserve to break ice.

Secondly, find your hobby. Do not tell that you do not have time for it. You have. Instead of procrastinating by doing nothing, with your hobby you will not procrastinate anymore, you will get a CREATIVE and relaxing product. For me, it is writing various poems. In this way, you will not be overloaded by studying.

  I love my thesis,
  My thesis loves me.
  Let’s create a big deal
  To support the ideal.

Thirdly, you should remember that a substantial amount of people all around the world write thesis papers, and they did this! Think of it as “It is just another paper” (Montgomery, 2017). You should understand how much you are interested in the topic of your thesis. The principle: The more…, the better. The more you are interested in it, the more you will get a joy. After you add your voice on a particular topic, you will get into this field, and become the part of it.

  Time passes by,
  Sometimes I don’t mind.
  If I had another chance,
  I would think of this twice.

Next point to share with you is time value. Do not think of the result and end of the process. Otherwise, you will miss the precious time and all the positive moments which you will never face the second time. In the case of academic writing, write everything step by step. Do not write for the sake of writing, do your best, and you will be okay.

  Never think of some feedback,
  Like it is a huge mistake.
  It is just a third hand
  That will help you till the end.

The last, but not the least piece of advice is to look at feedback that you get from your Professors as a great help, and not a punishment. At first, it was difficult for me to accept some feedback, and I got upset. Now I understand that I am in the process of getting knowledge, and I will learn my whole life. There will always be feedback, both positive and negative. The only think is to LEARN from them.

To conclude, I would like to thank my MA NUGSE id2016 group mates. You are fantastic! All of you will do their best to overcome some difficulties and take out of it only POSITIVE outcomes. I hope that this post would support you and all education professionals.

Learning languages for the sake of…?


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The episode of the podcast “Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?” was dedicated to the issues of learning foreign languages in terms of psychological and economic (ROI)  pros and cons. It was clear that the creator did not try to persuade us, because he just had been asking diverse questions upon this topic from experts in psychology and economics to inform the listeners about this issue. It is a very tough question to discuss. By listening to and taking some notes of the experts’ viewpoints, voices of children, I also would like to add some ideas of my own.

The presented information by Boaz Keysar, Albert Saiz, Bryan Caplan was supported by researches. Each of them gave a particular argument supporting it by introducing to us evidence and examples. For instance, Albert Saiz conducted a study with 9000 graduates in the USA. He highlighted that there is a low financial return if graduates know the second language. The speaker states that “If you speak the second language, you get only 2% more wage premium”, it is compared to Turkey, Russia, Israel contexts, where knowing English as a foreign language gives an opportunity to get a salary from 10 to 20% more. I think that there is similar tendency in Kazakhstan as well. People who know English would get a chance to be employed to a well-paid and prestigious job. Adding to this point, the proficiency in the Kazakh language is also essential while getting a job.

Many psychological insights about bilingual people were mentioned by another interviewee. I would like to describe only one of them. Boaz Keysar suggests that learners are ready to take risks and think of dilemmas in a foreign language frequently. From my own experience, I support this point. It may be because of the mentality, but I am not adapted to take risks in the Kazakh or Russian languages. For instance, I would never be as honest and brave as while speaking English; and I cannot elaborate on the reasons for now. While listening, I have heard the voices of children talking about the benefits of learning a foreign language. It was shocking for me that many of them, in the beginning of the episode, told about the prestige. I consider it as ‘worrying moment’, because they think of only material benefits. On the other side, they mentioned the opportunity of communicating with people all around the world. Thus, I found the balance, and the ‘worrying moment’ subsided. Overall, these constructive talks gave me food for thoughts.

I got to know a lot of new information, and I would do a further research on this topic. I would definitely recommend listening to this episode to everyone, because it discloses the topic of being bilingual from diverse perspectives. Find some time to listen to the podcast, it is worth it. If you listen to this episode, what will you agree and argue with most?

My path in the educational research field

Everything comes with practice, but your favourite research topics will always be with you. I believe that a researcher will do his/her best when he/she is keen on the field he/she is conducting a research in. It is not about the perspective, it is about the will. I have a story to tell about my favourite research topic and favourite research author.

The interest in the field of intercultural issues started from Kostanay State Pedagogical Institute. My capstone project was connected with this topic as well. I got to know a lot of nuances with the help of my supervisor – Professor Kudritskaya. In Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education I decided to broaden the scope of my knowledge, and write a thesis that would be closely linked to my academic interests. My thesis supervisor Dr. Ajodhia-Andrews suggested me to look at the topic of Critical Multicultural Education. Once I started to read articles written by James A. Bank, who is an expert in this field, I understood that it is what I would like to research in Kazakhstan. From that time James A. Bank immediately became one of my favourite research authors.


Now I am, as an emerging researcher, in particular interested in educational themes related to (critical) multicultural issues. That is why one of my favourite research authors is James A. Bank, who published a substantial amount of books/articles in this field. Visiting Nazarbayev University library is, first of all, visiting the bookshelf with books representing issues in (critical) multicultural education field. The books/articles written by James A. Bank are my favourites. They disclose this theme from the very basics (introduction into this field) continuing with issues, perspectives, views of different authors, and empirical studies. (Critical) Multicultural education is not only about cultures, but, firstly, about diversity and equity of education. James A. Bank emphasizes that everyone has a right to be fully represented in educational process, no matter what ethnicity, race, and culture you are. He also suggests curriculum and teaching strategies for educational institutions. The scholar is widely honoured, and it is a great honour for me to continue the discussion in the field of (critical) multicultural education by conducting the research in Kazakhstani context.

To conclude, I would like to highlight that it is significant to have a role model for each emerging researcher. I found my favourite research author, and I am going to learn more from his works. Also, I would like to thank my supervisors and professors for putting me on the right track, because now I know my path in the research field.



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Giving or taking? Is a “Pronoia” connected with succeeding? (Deconstruction).

Take a minute before watching a video or reading this blog post, and answer the question: “Are you a giver, a taker, or a matcher?”.

I have recently watched TED video where Adam Grant tells about givers, takers, and matchers in our society. The question of giving and taking is discussed in the talk of Adam Grant, and it is connected with every sphere of our life. I remembered the words of one of our professors at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education (NUGSE) that each of us should share and help. In this blog post, I would discuss the issues of givers, takers, and connect them with the educational area.

Do you always ask people do anything for you? Do you ask people if you can do anything for them? Do you do anything for the sake of taking back? These are general explanations of a taker, a giver, and a matcher.  As Adam Grant noted, givers are found in all the spheres of life, work, studying both at the bottom and at the top. They make the process work, but they are sometimes unevaluated. They share their knowledge, give feedback, and it could be 5 minutes help, but it is worth. The speaker pointed out three things to protect givers: protect givers from burnout; encourage help-seeking; get the right people on the bus/keep the wrong people off the bus. Explaining in other words, givers should know that they can receive as well; people should not be shy to ask for help; takers should be out because they could pass over the whole work to a giver.

What image do you have when you think of givers and takers? Agreeableness is for givers, and disagreeableness is for takers? However, these traits of character are not connected, and they could represent both of them. Personally, I appreciate disagreeable givers, they are the most critical and tell things that no one wants to hear, but they tell the clear truth and to the point. Adam Grant ended his speech with the words that if there will be more givers, and if people would ask for help, it could lead to the change of success understanding.

The claim of a speaker is valuable, and the presented evidence mostly come from diverse studies. However, I have several points to debate about and add something from my own experience. I refer myself to matchers. Previously, I was a giver, but I have the story behind which made me a matcher. Now I think that everything should be built on balance. If there should be many givers, as Adam Grant suggests, takers and matchers will be off the bus. I believe that three of them should have the place in every sphere of our life. If a giver gives, who would receive then? I agree with the opinion that people should not be afraid of asking questions, they should share and help. However, not only givers can do this.

Talking about an educational sphere, I would like to speak of studying and teaching experiences. Studying at NUGSE, I see on the practice that helping each other, sharing, and asking questions open the door to the suitcase of knowledge. People who do these things are not only givers, but they manage to do it. Working as a teacher of the English language, there seemed to be a lack of givers. Mentoring is what I needed as a first-year teacher. However, no one wanted to help. Then, I asked for a help, and I got it. From my experience, givers are mostly awake when you ask. Thus, asking, sharing, and helping are more important in our life.

Do not be shy and afraid of asking questions, as it is the wheel to progress and all the developments in our society. Do help people and share with them, no matter who you are: a giver, a taker, or a matcher. Not the point of being a giver, but being responsive is a key to success.

To mix, or not to mix, that is the question!

Looking through the blog post of my group mates, I found out that the most popular topics are mother tongue usage and mixture of languages. The blog posts: “‘Shala Kazakh’ and other obstacles for the pure language”, “Why does the status of Kazakh remain low?”, “Why don’t Kazakhs speak in Kazakh as the native language?”, “Use mother tongue or not…”, “Who are we in this country?” look at these issues from diverse angles. Some of the posts were addressed to the code-mixing/switching issue. I have read all the blog posts and have watched the video with code-mixing/switching. Then, I decided to analyze the video, and find out what may cause code-mixing/switching.

The interview in the video was supposed to be in the Russian language. The theme of the interview was the opening of a new fashion shop. The shooting took place in Canada, the country that is considered to be multilingual and multinational/multicultural. The speaker had the Russian language as a native, but she moved to Canada many years ago, and the English language became dominant in the usage. By listening and transcribing the speaker’s speech, I found out that there was a case of code-mixing/code-switching between Russian and English, with a few elements of the Ukrainian language. This switching happened, as proposed by Poplack (2004), inter-sentential, intra-sentential, and extra-sentential. The lexical units represent the number of words in this speech. Totally, there are 344 words, out of this number 242 words were told by the speaker in Russian, 100 words in English, and only 2 repetitive words were in Ukrainian. After calculating the number of English and Ukrainian words appearing in the speech, it became distinct that the English language emerged almost at a half of the speech. Several points may influence this process.

First of all, the country, where the speaker lives, is mainly English/French speaking. Thus, she communicates in English everyday, and the English language is a part of her routine. While living there for too much time, she might forget a substantial amount of words in the Russian language. However, listening to her speech, it is obvious that the grammatical structure and sentence building in Russian are correct. In addition, as the speaker became connected with fashion in Canada, many of those words were taken in English, and she was adapted to use them in that language rather than in Russian or Ukrainian. Most of the words were dedicated to the topic of fashion and colors. Consequently, the speaker might not know the analogues of these words.

The increase in the usage of English all around the world may contribute to the next suggestion. For the Russian language speakers, English is believed to be prestigious, and the stereotype that the person, knowing English, is more educated, may occur. Comparing with the study of Yee Ho (2007), who conducted a research on the use of English in the Cantonese language, the same point is raised in the findings. “The use of English in Cantonese utterances delineates social stratification more clearly and divides those with good education, great prestige and high social status from those without” (Yee, W. & Ho, J., 2007). This point could be one of the influences to code-mix/switch as well.

To conclude, it could be suggested that code-mixing/switching which occurred in the interview might represent the speaking style of a person at the particular case (talking about fashion). Living too many years in an English speaking country, the lack of vocabulary may be one of the reasons to code-mix/switch, but there could be another reason for it. Code-mixing/switching could occur to show the side of an educated person, who really knows their job. However, there are many other reasons of code-mixing/switching. Do you code-mix/switch? If yes, what are the reasons?




Yee Ho, J. W. (2007).  Code-mixing: Linguistic form and socio-cultural meaning. The International Journal of Language, Society and Culture. 21 (1-8). Retrieved from

Poplack, S. (2004). “Code-Switching”. In U. Ammon, N. Dittmar, K.J. Mattheier and P. Trudgill. Sociolinguistics. An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society (2nd ed.). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 589–596.

“Throw away the papers! E-learning is coming! … Is it really coming?”

gfnfmgmE-learning system in Kazakhstan has been working without any changes for about four years, and there are many obstacles towards it. In order to implement something from the very beginning, we need to try to look at the research projects that were conducted before to eliminate some problems. After reading the blog post “E-learning reform” with a substantial amount of evidence, I decided to add some other points to this issue in terms of untrained teachers problem in this system.

As Sommerville (2004) mentioned that “effective implementation of E-learning requires proper integration of the needs of both e-students and e-teachers into administrative, managerial and delivery systems” (as cited in Safavi, p.52, 2008). It is highlighted that the interconnection between all stakeholders and people who are responsible for the realization of the program is crucial. It is like a triangle system that should be connected with each other; otherwise, it will not be that triangle which we were planning to have. One of the research papers that was published by Boulton (2008) was held in the ICT equipped school in the United Kingdom. It showed that E-learning would take place in the curriculum of secondary schools, but the teachers had to be aware of the system. It is important to pay attention to the preparatory courses. The needs of teachers are to be trained, firstly, in order to meet the requirements of a new system. In other way, it will impact negatively the teaching and learning processes in schools in terms of traditional lessons which make students demotivated sometimes, and there will not be a place for transparency in the process of education.

Another research that was conducted by Bulgarian team was exploring Unified eLearning Environment for the schools (UNITE) (Nikolova, Georgiev & Gachev, 2008). UNITE does provide new information to the secondary schools’ students, and it varies traditional methods with innovative ones. The shortcoming among teachers was about some technical problems that were difficult to deal with, and computer literacy was lacking. The decision was to create for teachers some workshops; luckily, such workshops began to exist (Nikolova et al, 2008). It is great that this challenge had been noticed and the main step towards the solution was made. It would be better for Kazakhstani context to create these kinds of workshops as well.

By making these steps, we could minimize the shortcomings to a less number. It would positively impact the quality of lessons in terms of more innovative lessons which bring interest among students, and these steps would also lead to transparency in the educational process.



Boulton, H. (2008). Managing e-Learning: what are the Real Implications for Schools? The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 6 (1), 11 – 18. Retrieved from

Nikolova, N., Georgiev, A., Gachev, G. (2008, January). The Challenges in the Secondary School e-Learning Process. ECEL 2008 – 7th European Conference on E-Learning.Sofia, Bulgaria: Sofia University – St. Kliment Ohridski

Safavi, A. A. (2008) Developing Countries and E-Learning Program Development, Journalof Global Information Technology Management, 11 (3), 47-64, DOI:  10.1080/1097198Х.2008.10856473

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Are the majorities first served?

After reading a thought-provoking blog post “Issues relating to minority languages”, I decided to raise this issue in the panel discussion that we had previous semester. I agree with some points of Nazguln and this time I would like to add information which is supported by a study and my personal position concerning this theme. Looking at the issue of minority languages in Kazakhstani educational system, I always see an iceberg, where the hidden part stands for minority languages and cultures, whereas the visible part is for the majority ones. Minority ethnicities struggle to maintain their languages and cultures, but we should think over some suggestions to solve this problem.

According to Information-Analytic Center in Kazakhstan (2015), there were 33 schools with minority languages (such as Uzbek, Uyghur, and Tajik) as mediums of instruction. Small numbers of schools provide courses on other minority languages as German, Korean, Ukrainian, and etc. Language centers and Sunday schools are another ways for people to maintain their languages and cultures. For instance, my friends go to a center called “Druzhba” in Kostanay in order to learn, improve, and maintain their native languages. However, students of minority ethnicities learn Kazakh, Russian, English languages at school 5-6 days a week, and have to go additionally to a Sunday school or centers; it is an overwhelming situation for them. Taking into account schools with minority languages as mediums of instruction, we can say that students graduating from these schools probably would have troubles in socializing, entering universities of Kazakhstan, and finding a job. In the future, this situation might lead whether to migration from Kazakhstan or disappearance of a diversity of languages and cultures in Kazakhstan.

How could this situation be changed? In the blog post “Issues relating to minority languages”, it was written that the attention from the government should be paid towards textbooks. Textbooks which include an equal proportion of all cultures would lead to a reformation of curricula. However, talking about the integration of all minority languages and cultures in the curriculum would be difficult enough. Since Kazakhstan is considered to be multinational and multicultural country, consisting of over 130 ethnicities, this action is close to an impossible one. One of the main difficulties here is the understanding of what culture to teach. The research that we should mention here “The treatment of culture in the foreign language curriculum and analysis of national curriculum documents” by Evgenia Lavrentyeva and Lilly Orland (2015) in 14 countries and, the schools in Egypt, Croatia, and Finland under culture in curriculum understand their own culture and identity, not other cultures. Thus, the comprehension of over 130 existing ethnicities in Kazakhstan should be gone through the exercises in the books slightly. It would be better to start from little things moving forward. For example, while reading the text in one of the books, the names and pictures representing diverse nationalities could appear.

The question of minority languages in a multilingual/multinational/multicultural country is very tough.  It is definitely significant to keep not only Kazakh, Russian, English languages and cultures, but to add other nations living in Kazakhstan into the educational context to create a multicultural environment in Kazakhstani educational system. What would you suggest?


Lavrenteva, E. & Orland-Barak, L. (2015). The treatment of culture in the foreign language   curriculum: an analysis of national curriculum documents. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 47 (5), 653-684. DOI: 10.1080/00220272.2015.1056233

Do you enjoy teaching? Yes, but…


September 1st, 2014. I remember entering the school with a lot of doubts in my mind. It was the first day of my working experience as a teacher of the English language. The feelings of anxiety prevented me from enjoying this memorable day. While being a pre-service teacher, I could not even imagine that I knew only a HALF of the whole picture. Teaching experience is as enjoyable as drinking water after fitness; at the same time, it is as difficult as learning to drive a car and having poor eyesight. What does bother a first-year teacher? This blog post is not about some pieces of advice but the voice from the teacher who went through it.

A teacher of the English language – sounds great! “When pre-service teachers choose to become teachers to receive external praise, external rewards or because it was prescribed by others, they are acting on extrinsic motives” (Bruinsma & Jansen, p. 186). In my case, it was much of an intrinsic motive. I was willing to become a perfect teacher by giving my students the best of my knowledge and learn from them. I did have this pleasure of becoming a solid whole with my students. I found some hints not to make a pressure on them, but to have a better conversation with my students. A wonderful atmosphere filled all the lessons of English. I was so happy to be a teacher because of it. However, another side added a bit negative part to this story.

What was mentioned before is how the majority of people imagine the teacher profession. I am so lucky that I truly experienced it. Nevertheless, I would not stop here. Plenty of duties goes hand in hand with teaching. Filling pile of documents (paper-based and e-versions), being a curator, communicating with parents, creating concerts, trying host’s outlook, leading students’ research papers – “why not?”. The most significant about this situation is that every teacher faces with it. However, first-year teachers have a more difficult teaching life. Why? Based on my experience, that is because there is no a well-worked mentoring system. If an experienced teacher supported the above mentioned one, a “critical teaching” period would not be so difficult to fight with.  The second reason is a lack of proper duties distribution. Teachers are not robots to cover all the deals perfectly at a time. In this sense, I support Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools’ (NIS) system. They have a mentoring system, which is created for a year period; the roles of teachers and curators are faithfully divided. These two great points could change the situation of overloaded teachers’ minds.

January 28th, 2017. I have two years of teaching experience, and now I am getting my Master’s degree in the sphere of Multilingual Education. I am on the way to know the WHOLE picture of Kazakhstani education system. It is my voice about teaching experience which could be compared to a grain of sand in a desert. Would you add anything to this?


Bruinsma, M., & Jansen, E. P. W. A. (2010). Is the motivation to become a teacher related to pre-service teachers’ intentions to remain in the profession? European Journal of Teacher Education, 33(2), 185-200. DOI: 10.1080/02619760903512927

Photo credit to Ayana Mukuzhanova.

How to cope with deadlines at NUGSE?

httpengage-franklin-eduHow do you cope with a deadline? The deadline is the word that provokes every student to be scared and start to procrastinate. The life of a student changes when deadlines come closer. The studying at NUGSE is as difficult as taking part in a marathon where the end of a distance is the most willing but exhausting. However, I can state that everything is possible and the deadline is not the thing to think different about. Some rules of mine presented below might help students studying at NUGSE get rid of anxiety about deadlines.

The first and foremost rule is to create the calendar where all deadlines will be marked, and the most essential is to highlight the dates to do a particular task. As for me, I had four final papers to deal with in the first semester. It was scary, but I tried to find the best solution to overcome sleepless nights. I dedicated one week of thorough work to one final paper. It took from three to four hours each day, but it was not so difficult. In general, I had four weeks to work on four final papers. At that time I could find free time to go to the gym, to meet with my friends, and enjoy the life as it is.

The second rule is additional to the first one, and it is more as a piece of advice. Even if you perfectly planned the first step, another problem may appear and spoil all your efforts. It would be better to draw your attention to the time of a day when you are going to write your paper. You should choose the time when nothing and nobody could reach you. Every student while doing his or her research should always remember that the appointed time they chose is for reading articles and writing a paper; and chatting with friends, drinking water, eating, sleeping, looking at your amazing face and body at the mirror, all these unexpected feelings of doing something else have to be postponed.

There is a substantial amount of rules to follow concerning this topic. The points mentioned above might be of a help to every student having difficulties with deadlines. Based on my experience, I can say that these two rules work great together to create safe, stress-free, and productive atmosphere of studying at NUGSE.


[Online image]. Retrieved January 14, 2017 from