Can you tell us a bit about Kazakhstan? Do you have a favorite place to visit?

I love Kazakhstan. People there are very welcoming and open. They're always glad to invite you to try traditional cuisine, like beshbarmak, plov, baursaki and other dishes, even if they're not Kazakhs. What I love most is that it’s a multicultural country. People of different nationalities live there. I have Kazakh friends, but also Uzbek, Armenian, Korean, Greek, and Ukrainian friends, too. 

On March 22nd all of them celebrate a wonderful holiday of the upcoming spring – Nauryz. I really enjoy this celebration. My favorite place is the city of Shymkent. In summer it is full of flowers. People start hiking in the Tien Shan mountains and also enjoy having picnics. 

How do people react to you being from Kazakhstan?

When people learn where I'm from, they often try to guess my hometown but it never works. Usually, they know only two or three cities: Almaty, Nur-Sultan, and Karaganda. My hometown is Shymkent. It's the southernmost and warmest city with more than one million citizens. 

Alyona Kudlayeva. Credit: Alyona's personal archives
Alyona Kudlayeva. Credit: Alyona's personal archives

What surprised you about ITMO?

I was surprised by how ITMO is always ready to help students. It’s something you cannot find at every university. 

What did you like about science communication?

I like that science communication has interesting aspects: science journalism, popularization of science, and science museums. At ITMO, I had a chance to try it all myself. 

What do you think makes a good student?

A good student enjoys their studies and does most of the tasks on time and with pleasure. 

Do you have any favorite places in St. Petersburg?

One of my favorite places in St. Petersburg is the alley on the 8th Line of Vasilievsky Island. Six years ago, when I first came to study here, me and my mom walked there and just found it very beautiful. Since then, I enjoy walking around that area. 

Do you have any hobbies? 

Dance! For the past three years I've been dancing dancehall, Jamaican style to be precise, which has three parts: party, badman, and female. I can dance all of them. When I dance, I forget all my problems and issues in life. It also helps me learn more about myself and develop my body and my femininity. A year ago, me and two other girls started our own dance group – Rollerman. We have participated in three team battles in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as  in a dancehall camp and won prizes. Now that I have moved to Moscow, I plan to continue to dance. 

Alyona Kudlayeva and her team at Bounce Dance festival 2019. Credit: vk.com/bouncedancefest
Alyona Kudlayeva and her team at Bounce Dance festival 2019. Credit: vk.com/bouncedancefest

What is an interesting fact about you?

I once went rope-jumping off the longest suspension bridge in Russia! The height was 69 meters. 

What piece of art most influenced the person you are today?

One fascinating musical took my breath away three times as I watched this unbelievable performance. It was Notre Dame de Paris in French. When there was a premiere in St. Petersburg, I knew I had to go and I bought a ticket for myself to attend. I think both the book and the musical are amazing. 

Can you share some facts you’ve just learned and would like to share with everyone else?

I just found out that there are very interesting art & science projects out there. I recently learned about a lipstick which contains a substance that is a precursor to ethylene. Ethylene is a hormone that stimulates and regulates fruit ripening and flower blooming. Therefore, kisses with this lipstick promote plant growth. It's interspecies communication in the language of chemistry. Collaboration between art and science produces amazing projects for the next generation.

Written by Ethan Avila

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