Kazakhstan’s Bayanaul National Park is famous for mountains, lakes, beaches, rock climbing, mountain biking — and rock formations resembling everything from an old woman’s head to a flying saucer.

Here it seems that every natural feature comes with a legend or belief. This oral folklore was passed down for centuries in Kazakh, but with the recent growth of tourism the same stories are now told— by locals and tour guides — in Russian and English as well.

But are they really the same stories? What happens when an oral legend jumps to a different language, a different culture? Do storytellers adapt their tales for audiences with a foreign sense of humor, or foreign standards of propriety?

Our team will record, transcribe and compare Bayanaul legends as told in English, Russian and Kazakh. They will also photograph and video the natural features tied to those legends. Bi- or trilingual staff will assist with translation.

Expedition starts and ends in Pavlodar, KZ

About This Expedition

  • Dates:

    July 8, 2024 to July 19, 2024

  • Location:

    Bayanaul, Bayanaul district, Pavlodar District, Kazakhstan

  • Expedition Languages:

    Russian, Kazakh, English

  • Team Size:


  • Projected Fee:

    $2700-$3200 --- ($2295-$2720 for enrolled US undergraduate and graduate students)

  • Apply By:

    May 9, 2024

Meet The Team

  • head shot of woman, trees in background

    Dr. Alevtina Tsvetkova

    Professor of Russian Philology, specializing in Folklore, at Pavlodar State University in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan

    Dr. Tsvetkova has been making folklore expeditions to Siberia and the Altai Mountains (on both sides of the Russia/Kazakhstan border) since 1983. Her special interests include family folklore, family life-cycle rituals, and the contemporary role of folk legend and belief.

  • head shot Yelena Minyonok

    Dr. Yelena Minyonok

    Major Researcher and Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive
    Gorky Institute of World Literature, Moscow

    Lena Minyonok is a philologist, folklorist, and Principal Investigator of the American Friends of Russian Folklore. Dr. Minyonok graduated from the Philological Department of the Moscow State University, where she received her M.A. degree from in 1988. Her postgraduate studies were at the Gorky Institute of World Literature (Russian Academy of Sciences, 1988-1991). She received her Ph.D. in Folklore (Moscow, 1998) and now serves as Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive and Major Researcher in the Folklore Division of the Gorky Institute. Dr. Minyonok has been a Principal Investigator for countless folklore expeditions and has published over 60 articles about Russian folklore traditions. Most recently, she has led expeditions for the American Friends of Russian Folklore (PREEEF’s former name) in conjunction with the Institute of World Literature at the Russian Academy of Sciences. She was a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky in 2007, as a Fulbright scholar.