Charles McGrath is a citizen of the USA, traveler, pilot and extreme sportsman. Above all of that he is a host of the program “Aviator” on Kazakh TV. In this interview Charles tells us why it was hard to him to eat horse meat, what are the differences and similarities between Americans and Kazakhs and what kind of countries he would like to visit in the future.
My dad was a typical American, Irish and German. My mother is Taiwanese. So I’m mixed.
I had Asian influence from my mother and a lot of there – traditions and how they viewed families, very tight family. And my dad was an honorable father and man. His priority was always taking care of family. Everything was for a family.
I have two younger sisters. I was the oldest one, sort of the protective older brother.
I’m from California.
I was really into Bruce Lee and martial arts and that’s why I was interested in acting. Bruce was a huge inspiration especially for Asians around the world and America. And of course, for people of all races just because the kind of guy he was.
There was a time I just wanted to be a successful actor, but I’ve moved from that now I’m more interested in other things, so I love international relations. I’ve travelled at least 15 countries and for me it’s my life now. This is more about meeting different people.
I believe this is a small interconnected world, it’s all about relationships even at the highest levels and we have a lot of problems in the world. That’s why our future depends on people that learning another languages, meeting with people of different countries and learning how to get along and work together.
When I was growing up I used to love and still do martial arts, so I used to study tempo karate then I could move on to boxing, kickboxing and really into boxing for along time. Most recently I started getting into Jiu-jitsu so that is my main hobby.
I didn’t do a lot of traditional American sports like baseball, basketball or football I was never into that I was more into martial arts. But I was always into something athletic.
Sometimes people notice me. When I was going through an airport in Almaty I realized that person who was looking on the bags was staring at me. So I looked over and was like is there is something in my bag? And she goes: “Aviator!”
I’ve always been really interested in all former Soviet Union – CIS – countries because it was closed when I was growing up. So for me I always was fascinated to travel to these countries. Now the world has changed. There are other Baltic countries I would like to visit like Estonia, Latvia, and Poland. I haven’t been in China.
When we were travelling around Sharyn Canyon, Kolsai lake and Kaindy lake, roads were very old and very bumpy. And we had to stop. Then we saw hundreds of running horses around. I don’t know if somebody owns these horses or they are wild.
ABOUT KAZAKHSTAN AND KAZAKHSTANIS
The reason I came to Kazakhstan is completing another master’s degree and studying international relations specifically Kazakhstan and this region. Also I came here to study Russian and finish my thesis.
It wasn’t such a shock from me as would be for some Americans or Westerns to come here because I had worked already in Moscow. I taught English there and I worked in financial services so I already had experience working in Moscow and travelling around a lot in that region.
People here like on east coast of America. They are really in a hurry, stressed and have a lot to do, and a lot of things are dealing and so they are more aggressive.
We love horses like we like dogs. So it’s the tough one. When I was eating my horse steak I was very hungry and it was very good and tasty. But in my mind I was remembering the scene in «Godfather».
Kazakhs are very kind, very loyal, and very hospitable. When you meet you notice generosity and how they treat you as a guest and when invite you over and make a nice traditional meal. The similarities with Americans are Kazakhs can be open, very friendly, and easy to talk to.
When I’m getting to a taxi that I just stopped on the road, it’s very easy just start talking to a driver and getting to know where he/she is from. And he/she is very curious about US foreigner. I would say Kazakhs like Russians very warm, very giving. And you know the thing with gifts is amazing and very thoughtful.
Americans are more focused on their objectives and their goals and people I’ve met in Kazakhstan and Russia are really good at just living at the moment and enjoying the moment and no thinking so much about your future. And that’s a really good reminder how to live your life. And both what I learnt in Russia and Kazakhstan the people I’ve met they do have the same ambitions, the Americans have for creating business and very savvy in that way, hardworking. And I’ve met really intelligent, well-educated people that have been educated in many countries, travel a lot and as I said earlier it’s extremely important to the world’s future.
I wish Kazakhstan a great success in their future and I’m really enjoying my stay here as a guest.
Interviewed by Aida Haidar
Written by Xeniya Pridatchenko