PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2007, 12:00am

Name: Sauranbayev Murager Amangeldiuly

Age: 19

City/country: Almaty, Kazakhstan

Star sign: Cancer

Kazakhstan is a land of ancient nomads. Last century it was part of the USSR, it became independent in 1991.

It is the ninth biggest country in the world. It has a lot of mineral resources, including oil, gas and steel.

It is very multinational. There are more than 120 different cultures and religions but people live friendly and peacefully.

I live in Almaty, which is the biggest city, and the financial and cultural centre of the country.

My favourite musician and idol is famous Kazakh conductor and traditional instrumentalist Nurgisa Tilendyev. He created an orchestra of traditional instruments and made Kazakh music very popular among young people.

Last month I participated in the first international championship of performing arts in his honour. As I had practised a lot, I won the grand prize.

My favourite sport is called kokpar. It is traditional game with similar rules to football and rugby.

But the difference is participants play on horses and use a dead sheep or goat instead of a ball. It is a very popular sport in central Asia

I enjoy Kazakh cuisine. We eat a lot of meat: horse, beef, mutton and goat, almost anything except pork.

We also have traditional drinks like shubat and kumiz that are made from camel and horse milk.

But the best thing is that you could stop at a stranger's house and they will feed you. Kazakhs are very hospitable and welcoming.

Our most important festival is Nauriz on March 22 when we celebrate the spring equinox and animals and plants start their new life. It is our New Year and people all over Central Asia celebrate for one month.

During that time, people forgive others for mistakes made and offences committed. Everybody wears national costume, invites people to their homes, cooks traditional foods and organises traditional games.

My school life is very busy but interesting. I used to study at the school of Arts, where I had to attend different musical events. I played in concerts and took part in different competitions against students from all over Kazakhstan and in world performing arts championships in Hollywood, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.

Now I am a third year student at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management Economics and Strategic Research. I study media management in the department of journalism.

I chose this specialization because I want to make a contribution to the process of Kazakhstan's media, which still suffers from corruption after collapse of USSR.

My mother tongue is Kazakh. It is related to the Turkish language, but the writing is similar to Russian. I also speak Russian, which is the main language of communication in Kazakhstan.

At school I study English and Persian languages.

Last year, the heads of Kazakhstan and Hong Kong signed an agreement to share new technology, bank systems and social development ideas.

As part of the collaboration, four Kazakh students were sent to study at Hong Kong Baptist University on an exchange programme.

We were the first Kazakhs to study in Hong Kong as international students. I was astonished by the high standard of living and the level of development there when I first arrived.

The city is awesome. I fell in love with it from the day I arrived. I like the people: they are very friendly and open. I really miss Hong Kong!