If you have never been to Central Asia, your impression may be desserts, mosques, camel caravans, accompanied by a very conservative culture. Traveling through west China and southern Kyrgyzstan, this is what we found. Woman were covered in their hijab and wearing dresses. Men wore long pants and religious hats and the mosques were crowded during there prayer times. Culture and heritage were rich in the clothing and food and language. Yet, arriving in Kazakhstan, particularly Almaty and Astana, the infiltration of western, modern culture is instantly noticed.
Walking the streets you would think you are in Western Europe and the America and then back again. Infrastructure and culture are very similar to what I would see back home. Young professionals wearing business attire, high schoolers and college kids wearing the recent, stylish brands of cutting edge fashion. Gulnara is a young woman I met on the streets of Astana. She was the perfect representation of the modern adapting culture of the younger generation. Still following cultural and religious regulations of wearing a head cover, yet following the trends of modern culture. I loved her dress as it represented the islamic presence that still is the undertone of Kazakhstan, and even in her modern dress she still represented the national colors of her country. She is a young professional working for one of the top construction consulting companies in Astana as well as entrepreneurial pursuits on the side. This is what it is like being a 26 year old woman growing up in a quickly changing and ever growing country.