Kazakh Aul of the United States

About Us

The Kazakh Aul of the US was formed in late 2004 by Susan Saxon, a mother of a Kazakh-American daughter, and Zhanat Baidaralin, a famous Kazakh ballet master and choreographer. Shortly thereafter, a major turning point for the growing organization occurred when Leila Bassenova, a businessperson from Almaty, purchased and sent an authentic Kazakh yurt from Kazakhstan. This yurt has been the cornerstone for all Aul celebrations and events.

The Kazakh Aul of the US is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dependent upon donations and sponsorship from outside sources to fulfill its mission. All donations are tax deductible.

The Kazakh Aul of the US is not an adoption, political, or religious organization, and does not discriminate on the basis on race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, or other legally protected status in the admission, access, or operation of its programs, services, and activities.

Our Misson

The Kazakh Aul of the US follows two intertwined paths to support the rich culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The organization serves to educate and enrich the lives of children from Kazakhstan who are growing up in the US. Together with their families, children participate in Kazakh heritage camps and cultural education to develop a deeper sense of knowledge and understanding of their birth culture, and how they fit into both the Kazakh and American worlds.

The Kazakh Aul of the US also aims to establish a center dedicated to Kazakh culture and shall serve as a cross-cultural bridge to help Americans discover both the ancient Nomadic civilization and the contemporary state of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Members of the professional artistic community of Kazakhstan will visit the US to represent their culture through exhibitions, concerts, presentations, seminars, and other cultural events.

For over seven years, the Kazakh Aul of the US has been actively promoting awareness of the proud and colorful history, culture, and arts of Kazakhstan through the creation of cultural programs and exchanges. Our programs have continued to evolve and expand to incorporate all aspects of Nomadic life among the people of Kazakhstan.

Our successful inter-country exchanges have brought multi-talented bearers of tradition from Kazakhstan to create an atmosphere of authenticity in our programs, while simultaneously providing positive role models for the children who participate. We continue to expand our programs and exchanges with the aim of becoming a resource for Kazakh culture for people from all backgrounds and ages.

What We Do

The Kazakh Aul of the US organizes cultural and educational events, including:

  • Zhailau (Summer Encampment of Kazakh Nomads)
  • Information on local events, such as Nauryz Meyrami (Celebration of the Kazakh New Year)
  • Arnausapar (Traveling Events)
  • Collaboration with other organizations

Executive Staff

Susan Saxon, Executive Director. Ms. Saxon is the proud mother of a child from Kazakhstan and thus has a deep personal interest and drive to develop links to Kazakh culture and to provide cultural education and support for children and their families. Prior to co-founding the Kazakh Aul of the US, Ms. Saxon was active in the adoption community and founded the Kazakhstan Adoptive Families’ Network of Massachusetts and Rhode Island (KAFN), an online social and support group for families who are pre- and post-adoptive for Kazakhstan. Ms. Saxon’s professional training was in psychology, and she currently works in the field of education where she conducts evaluation research. Her ongoing work with the Kazakh Aul of the US is a true labor of love, and her oversight of its administration has laid a foundation that will ensure the continuation of the Aul for many years to come. ssaxon@kazakh-aul-us.org

Jeanne Carrillo, Managing Director.

Leah Russell, Managing Director.

Gulmira Amurtayava, Volunteer Director of Kazakh Cultural Programming. Gulmira grew up in an aul outside Ust-Kamenogorsk and is a professionally trained qobiz musician. She has performed with professional orchestras in Kazakhstan and the US as a member of Trio Nazim. In addition to performing qobiz and teaching dombra at Zhailau, in 2010, Gulmira assumed greater responsibility with the Aul. She provides consultative services for Zhailau cultural programming, interviews prospective Kazakh staff, coordinates current Kazakh staff, and spends countless hours on the phone with her contacts in Kazakhstan. She arranges the purchase and transport of dombras for our music classes and traditional souvenirs for our Aul store. She is truly instrumental (ha ha! pun not intended) to our Zhailau.