Interview with Darina Sanzhieva


Claire Lavarreda  0:00  
There we go. Okay, great. All right. So thank you to Darina again for joining me for this interview for the project, How We Remember. I'm very excited, and you're also one of the first people I'm going to be speaking to. So that's very exciting for me as well. And so I'm happy to have you! So here... I'm going to jump right in. 

Darina Sanzhieva  0:20  
Thanks for having me.

Claire Lavarreda  0:22  
Alright, so the first question I have is just-- Would you mind stating your name, age and current occupation?

Darina Sanzhieva  0:30  
Well, my name is Darina Sanzhieva. I am 37 years old. And currently I am a cultural director of Buryaad Mongol United Association. It's a nonprofit organization. And also I'm a manager of the Mongol folk band Zerd. That's what I do. And I'm a full time mom. So it's...

Claire Lavarreda  0:52  
... really it's... it's super busy life. 

Darina Sanzhieva  0:55  

Claire Lavarreda  0:57  
So to kind of start things off, would you mind telling me your indigenous background and where you grew up?

Darina Sanzhieva  1:02  
Yes, I'm a Buryat Mongolian. I grew up in a very, very small town in Siberia. It's called Republic of Buryatia, in Russia. The town is called Kurumkan. It's like, you know, I guess it's gonna be a little hard for you to memorize. But like, if you need me to write down the, you know, like specific names or like the names of the places I can send you definitely.

Claire Lavarreda  1:32  
Thank you so much.

Darina Sanzhieva  1:33  
So yeah, I was born in in Russia in Moscow and then I grew up in Republic of Buryatia. Buryat Mongolians are one of the tribes of Mongol people. So there are five, five I believe, tribes of Mongolian people. There are Mongolians Khalkha Mongolians, they live in Mongolia. Then we have Buryat Mongolians, Kalmyk Mongolians and Tumed Mongolians. These three tribes live in Russia and also Inner Mongolia, Inner Mongolians, they are from China. And there is another tribe called Hazara Mongols. So Hazara Mongolians they located in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I think. So we're all Mongol people, like spread everywhere. So I'm a representative of Buryat Mongolian.

Claire Lavarreda  2:30  
Thank you for sharing that. I think it's so awesome, how you explain the differences and like the geographical differences, because I feel like a lot of people especially Americans are just like, oh, yeah, Mongolian, and then that's it. Like, that's the entire understanding. Yeah.

Darina Sanzhieva  2:44  
People usually think like, if you're a Mongolian, then you should definitely be from Mongolia. But you know, like, we were once one Mongol nation, but then, because of, you know, like, we were occupied by Russia or Inner Mongolia, were occupied by China. So that's why we got separated. And I believe Maria Mongolians live on...

400 I think so. What sometimes when people ask, like, where are you from? And you say, from Russia, they wouldn't you know, like, you don't look Russian, right? Not everyone understand that. Russia has a lot of like, ethnic minorities also, or, like, a lot of nationalities. But previously, we-we- we used to be in Mongolia, and then our lands got occupied a long time ago.

Claire Lavarreda  3:47  
So knowing that how was your indigeneity part of your life as a child? How was the history of your community passed down to you? So I guess things you practice? Stuff like that?

Darina Sanzhieva  3:58  
Yeah, well, I grew up in a very Buryat family. I grew up with my grandma. My grandma was like, super Buryat lady, you know, like all about tradition and folklore and the language. So, uh, yeah, that passed. She, like she did her best to pass the culture and the language and the history and, and the heritage we have to me. But thank God, I know the language. nowadays. I know that's a big issue for youth in Buryat. They don't know the language because it's just being eliminated. You know, because of the dominating language you have like the Russian language is the, like the first language and the Buryat language is not really taught in schools now. So it's more about families. So you can learn the language only in your family, like the best you can do is like just to teach your kids in your family because it's very hard to learn somewhere like different places like schools. or universities, colleges, whatever. It's not that popular and I guess it's a part of propaganda that it should be erased or or eliminated because like, you know, like Russia is big country, everybody should speak Russian. I know the same issue is in China also because when I speak to my inner Mongolian brothers and sisters, they have the same issue. Like we understand each other, like, clearly, they know what's going on. And we understand comparing to house Mongolians who live in Mongolia, they live in their country, you know, with their language and there is no different languages. So yeah, my grandma taught me the language and I was I was growing like in very Buryat you know, like, like, every everything around me and surrounding me was all about Buryat. Like celebrating all traditional holidays. If you do not know, Buryats are Buddhists, by religion, we're Buddhist, and also we practice shamanism. So I grew up in the region where shamanism and Buddhism is very, like, it's very connected to each other. So we can go for, you know, like, to shamans, we can go to the monks, you know, in both this so yeah, we celebrated all the traditional holidays, religious holidays, spoke only the Buryat language, and, like, definitely the traditional food, we cooked together, and she taught me how to cook like, I guess we should we should meet one day I have a very traditional Buryat cuisine we have it's very rich and make videos these days, our organizations trying to make the videos to pass it to the younger generation. So that they like I mean, to the community members who are here in the in the United States, because looking at our kids, they grow in America, and then you know, everything is American and it's all about fast food and everything. So yeah, try to to do some documentaries, just to show them at least what the the for example, like traditional food is called booze. Buuz is like a steamed dumpling. We do the documentaries here. So I'm just skipping far. So yeah, that's my background. And that's where I grew up. Now -- in a very small town, and then majority of of our --what do we say? Fellow fellow? Ca-country?

Claire Lavarreda  7:54  
Oh, like countrymen? Yeah, like...

Darina Sanzhieva  7:57  
Countrymen. Yeah, like we were all Buryats most people yes, there. So yeah. That's how I got the culture and the language.

Claire Lavarreda  8:08  
Yeah. It sounds --one -- like a beautiful culture. And then what you said about language, I feel like it's also so important. I know so many indigenous communities are like so much of the culture is in the language and when you start to lose that you start to lose like being able to be in touch with the culture. So I think that's amazing that also the work you're doing contributes to that. Um, and so kind of along that line, is there a favorite memory that sticks out to you from when you were a child related to just growing up in general?

Darina Sanzhieva  8:43  
Spending the time with my family especially when now I understand that that was very important. Being a kid you don't really understand like, Why do I have to you know, like, cook these dishes? but like

for example showing like why it is important to cook within this proper way or there are some different like steps to cook this or you know, or even do the prayer is in front of them. It's again unstable. Sorry. I hope Okay, so those those moments were super important to me. I mean, I understand it now. So those are in memory that it's my memory because I I understand that that was important. And those days were crazy cool, because my grandma literally had some time...

Claire Lavarreda  9:50  
Think we froze... did I get you back? Yes. Okay.

Darina Sanzhieva  9:59  
This is so crazy. Okay, so yeah, and being a principal of school like being a teacher, speaking about my grandma, she was super busy woman. But then she managed to teach me all this different kinds of you know how to cook, how to pray, how to read. She, I remember she was making me read literature in the Buryat language because it was very hard for me, you know, like books written in Buryat, then you don't really understand every single word because you at school, you speak only Russian, but then you come home, and then you speak Buryat. And she was like, making me read those books. Now, I understand that that was super important. And the sad thing that you realize is you when you realize it, when you grew up already, you know, being a child, you don't really put, you know, that much attention to that. But then now, when being a mom and trying to teach my kids the language, I understand that it's very hard. It was very hard. It's hard for me, they don't want to learn. They they're not they're not interested in it. And I just, I noticed that even during dinner, and we're speaking on occasion, like, why are we speaking English? We could speak the language, what is right, I know that whatever language I'm trying to teach them, why would I do that? It's just because they don't want it. It's just they don't, they don't use it. And the younger one, especially he said, like I'm not using it anywhere. Like I'm with my friends or with their relatives who live here. They speak only English. And that's very hard. I mean, that's a big problem. But my grandma, I mean, she put her effort to teach me so even sometimes in Soviet Union, it's a big impact of Soviet Union. My grandma was forced not to speak the Buryat, not to speak the native language they spoke. They were supposed to speak only Russian but they preserved it and she managed to pass the language to me or to her kids. I think she she played like a big big role in my life like preserving the ... um ... unique.. indig?

Claire Lavarreda  12:30  
like your indigenous... like, yeah, your indigeneity! She sounds like an amazing woman. What was her name?

Darina Sanzhieva  12:39  
Her name was Galena. It's not Buryat language. It's not Buryat name. It's Russian name, Galena. But, you know, that's, again, it's an impact of Soviet Union. They were supposed to give kids only Russian names speak only Russian. Forget about the culture, forget about the food and everything. So I understand. They went through the very hard times, but now it's not Soviet Union. I know. I understand. Being a kid, being a school kid... I didn't really feel the that I'm not free or something. Nobody, like told us you know, like, specifically "you speak only Russian," it's always in the air. Like, Buryat language is not popular. Everybody speaks Russian. And if you speak Russian with an accent, you're like, you know, you're from countryside or whatever. They will like bully you. So being a kid, you don't really understand those things. And now I can let you know. Oh, wow. Yeah, that was that was a big issue. Apparently. So yeah, the memories about my family and the way my grandma strictly taught me the culture, right. Yes, that's the most-- the biggest I appreciate.

Claire Lavarreda  14:02  
The biggest thing. And so then you were talking about obviously now as an adult looking back, you know, things you didn't as a kid, did your relationship with being born Mongolian change as you became a teenager or entered high school? Did it change at all? Or did it stay the same?

Darina Sanzhieva  14:19  
Yeah, as I mentioned, when I went to school, when I became a teenager, I thought that I also thought that the Buryat language was not popular and nobody really speaks. Especially in my, with my classmates, everybody was speaking Russian. You know, like movies in Russian songs and everything, like whatever you go, like, every wherever you go is it's all in Russian language and you think like you're a part of, of Russians. Maybe Maybe I'm Russian, you know, like, you think that way and then you think that Buryat is not popular and it's -- nobody understands you. I had that feelings. I I mean, I, there was something in my mind like teenager and, you know, nobody speaks. Why would I? Who am I going to speak this language? If especially if somebody's laughing at you, if you're speaking with some accent or something? Yeah, there was some times I didn't want to learn the language. I was literally like, refuse. Or, you know, like, do some research about like, famous Buryat politicians, or my grandma was all about that, because she knew history very well and the library in our house and remember, like, she had like, special room for the library. And it was like, We are writers. Yeah. I mean, she's a teacher, of course, I understand. Like, she had it. She she was supposed to have it. But then I thought that who needs this? Like, why? I'm just going there to dust the books and I don't want to read that, like something like that I have those feelings. But, but when I think yeah, when I entered the university, we had some some of my, some of the students they were, they were speaking Buryat. And there's a bunch of different dialects and we couldn't understand each other especially we came from different regions. And we're all students. And I don't understand some different dialect of boreal, they don't understand me and like you, just like, you know, smoothly go to the Russian language, and you speak on the Russian, but then somebody told me like, this is so unique that there is different dialects. And you can teach each other. Why Why wouldn't you? Why would you speak but yeah, like, what's wrong with that? Right? To be embarrassed about it? Like, I don't remember if it was a professor, or someone, like some adult, not not a student, right. And that time I started dating my boyfriend. I mean, now he's my husband. He's from like, he's musician here. His his family has also been like all about tradition for music and everything. And he used to speak to me on the Buryat language, which, because like, there is nothing to be embarrassed about it. Like why don't we speak Buryat? That time I realized that, yes, I have my own outfit, like, Buryat outfit, we have the richest culture, comparing to, you know, like, I don't want to say anything bad about like different tribes. But the Buryat culture is very rich in terms of songs, there is a lot of songs, there's throat singing, different instruments, epic telling, like, if you want to, you know, discover it, it's like a lot a lot to, to read and do the research. So that time I realized, like, wow, and then I...

when you travel abroad, you understand that you're not Russian, you are the Buryat Mongolia, your face says you're Asian, you should have your own native language, you should have your culture definitely, you cannot say I'm just from Russia. And that's it. Like who you are from Russia like, exactly, you know, right. So that gave me some, you know, like, the kick to the, to realize that, look, you're are indigenous. You're a native Buryat from Siberia, with our own culture with our own heritage, and then you have --you had your ancestors. And this is something unique. You should be, you know, like...

Claire Lavarreda  18:56  
To be like, proud of?

Darina Sanzhieva  19:05  
Yeah, that the time I became a student, almost, I think there was like, what, last maybe two years before the graduation? That really like that came up to me, like understanding that...

Claire Lavarreda  19:21  
It clicked for you. Right, right. Yeah. And I think that's kind of-- and thank you for sharing that with me-- but it's kind of like a beautiful journey of like, I guess also realizing who you are, as you come into adulthood of like, oh, this is this is actually who I am. So I think that is amazing. So I think for my next question, we've already spoken [about] how you are as an adult now. So I guess my next question is what indigenous practices do you continue today, and how is your heritage part of your life? Which I think I know a little bit about but yeah. 

Darina Sanzhieva  19:58  
So yeah, um, everything comes from the family as I said in the beginning so yeah we try to speak on the...

Yeah, you're muted.

Claire Lavarreda  20:26  
There we go. You're back now.

Darina Sanzhieva  20:29  
Alright, so yeah so the most important thing that we speak only the Buryat language with my husband so the kids can hear us and then to catch the sound and intonation and everything so they can understand the language at least you know like oh, this is the Buryat language they're speaking from the sounds and some words. We definitely cook our traditional foods. Well, it's not-- if we are celebrating something traditional holiday or any religious event so we try to cook only the traditional food, we have traditional outfit --look, we do a lot of stuff for the community! Of course we have a lot of outfits and we dress up always in traditional clothes and kids have it so and also I think what we do now is mostly for the community and for community kids. So it's been like what 10 years? Me and my husband are doing the events for Buryat people here in America and yeah we try to teach people that you have your language, you have your culture, you have your outfit come to the events in your Buryat outfit... anything organized. If we have hosts we try to speak only Buryat language, we are always looking for a host who speak only you know...

We came up to the point that we speak the language, the native language. So again the social gatherings are also important for us because the community kids-- I mean they get to know each other, they see what's going on. Like if we go like Buddhist temple we gather there all together and they know like oh, these are all Buryats, okay. Or okay, they're cooking this or something, right like that. So yeah, that's what we do.

Claire Lavarreda  22:47  
And what is the-- is there a lot of cultural significance to having and wearing the outfit? Is it like super important, or part of the culture to have that kind of outfit when you're going through an event?

Darina Sanzhieva  23:00  
It is important because our ancestors used to wear them for special events, but there's a lot of different outfits. Like you can have like usual outfit you can wear it at home, you know like you go outside, or like a fancy dress for for events. Or if you go to temples so you wear something like you know very traditional covered everything should be covered. You know like you can not show your naked parts of like I don't know like legs...

That's, that's also a part of culture and it's very important and but you can't really wear the outfit like going to the grocery shopping, right? 

Dress for like you know, do some stuff around the house. I don't know I don't really wear at home. If I'm hosting if I'm having like guests I would wear it. Just to show like that, "Look, this is the Digil,"  this is-- it's called the digil. Digil is like an outfit for men and women. So just to show, especially if-- it's especially for the Lunar New Year, we tried to wear it every time because you host a lot. A lot! You -- you go, for, you know, you go see the guys, you see the relatives, or relatives come to your house. So you're always wearing your outfit. That's important. So yeah, and also you know, you need to be covered and everything. So it's hard to buy those outfits here in America. We try to order it from Buryatia or Mongolia but the community is growing. I know some masters are coming here to New York from Chicago I don't know from Chicago or from Florida. Someone is coming here she she she knows how to make those and yeah, that's, that's very exciting. Like, you don't have to spend like 1000s of dollars to...

Claire Lavarreda  25:08  
... get it to ship from somewhere. Yeah.

Darina Sanzhieva  25:11  
Yeah, you can buy like fabric and you just, you know, they will have your measurements and yeah, so yeah, every year we try to get something new. Especially from -- I love my dresses, like I have a bunch of them, but you know, like, especially when you have events and the same people come to the event, you're not going to be wearing the same dress of course. You want to change them.

Claire Lavarreda  25:33  
Right, right.

Darina Sanzhieva  25:34  
And see, so yeah, that's what we do with digils.

Claire Lavarreda  25:43  
Amazing. Um, and then-- I guess another, like, kind of fun question I had-- was do you have a favorite food or recipe like a cultural food or recipe?

Darina Sanzhieva  25:51  
Well, I think all time favorites of me and of my family is traditional Buryat steam dumpling called buuz. My boss, he's from Center For Traditional Music and Dance. He knows Mongolian culture very well. He lived in Mongolia, in Mongolia language is buuz in Buryat is buuz. And he's like, you make me confused because booze in American is something different, right? Like, that's how it's called. So it's Buuz. It's not OO. It's U U Z. Okay. So yeah, that's steamed dumpling, and I have video I think on YouTube. We were doing the documentaries how to make the buuz and... in like with the ground beef, and the dough and everything, and how to steam it and like exact time of cooking. So that's our favorite dish for our family. We try to make buuz once a week. My kids love it. I mean, my kids, they they're vegetarians, but they don't eat the meat inside. They just eat the dough. Yeah, if somebody asked like, What's your favorite food? They say "buuz." Okay, but you don't eat the meat you don't eat the whole buuz? Because you're just eating the dough. But anyways, yeah, so that's my favorite. Favorite food.

Claire Lavarreda  27:25  
Sounds good. I'll have to watch the video. 

Darina Sanzhieva  27:28  
Yeah, I can send you the link. Yeah. So.

Claire Lavarreda  27:30  
So then what do you wish that non-Mongolian or non-Buryat people understood about your community?

Darina Sanzhieva  27:45  
I think the first thing is that we are ethnic minorities, there is not a lot, a lot of us, right. And it's way harder to preserve the language, the culture, traditions, heritage, it's always harder when you don't have nobody. Like, when you have something dominating, it's always hard to preserve it, you're struggling and step by step, whatever we do step by step should be you know, like, maybe just understand that. It's not easy. And we're doing our best to do that. Because sometimes, at the events like I can, I can just sometimes you just hear some feedback about like what you're doing. And it's not always always positive, right? Like somebody can be like, ah, this is not okay, and this is funny or something. We still struggle, we still try to preserve it. And there is not much of us. I mean, there's not many of us to nobody, and not everyone one wants to preserve it. To be honest, some of the Buryat people, they think that they're Russians. They don't want to learn the language, you know, like, why would I cook this? And why would I go to temple or be interested anymore? It's also impact of dominating culture. Impact of I don't know, propaganda thing, also, I guess. So we try to ruin that, to open their eyes. Just explain them, maybe be patient and just to understand that we're ethnic minorities, and there's just, there's a bunch of stuff to do. And we're trying to do our best. Maybe that.

Claire Lavarreda  29:44  
So now I was going to transition into some questions I had about the Buryaad Mongol United Association and then Zerd. So the first question I had is (and I know you've already said that you are the cultural director of the association): So how did the association start and how did you get into it? And become the director?

Darina Sanzhieva  30:02  
Well, it all started by volunteering. 10 years ago, me and my husband started organizing events for our community. There was like 50 people, I think in New York

getting know each other, just because like more of a social gathering just to know each other. And just to celebrate the Lunar New Year, guess we had some, my husband is a musician. He's a folk singer. And we had some performance there. I remember, I had like, some outfit from Buryatia, it was the time we just came to America. So that was the first time... we asked, are we gonna organize this year again, or you just don't want that? I'm like, yeah, why not? Like community is growing, and we want to meet and we live everywhere, you know, like, in different states? Why don't we just, yeah, once a year, just like, let's gather once a year and meet each other and speak about culture, maybe, you know, make some buuz, you know, like...

Claire Lavarreda  31:18  

Darina Sanzhieva  31:19  
... Growing, and then we have more musicians. And then we had more people coming to us. And like, in five years, I think it was already like 300 people for the event. And then we realized, Okay, we have a summer festival, also, which is like one of the biggest gathering of people. So we started organizing some more events also. And then people were coming. And then once somebody gave me an idea, like, why don't you say that the entry to the event should be only in Buryat outfits. And like, you can promote the Buryat outfit there. And then you do some contests, like, you know, the best outfit, like give them awards and everything. So yeah, we started that. And like, we grew that big. And like few years ago, we decided to register the organization. Because you know, like, you're growing, you cannot be just doing it like, especially for for the Lunar New Year. You sell the tickets for the Lunar New Year, because we gather in the restaurant, you need to pay for the restaurant, you need to pay for the musicians, it's a concern. We have a lot of elders in the community, we want to appreciate them, you know, like to give them gifts. It's the tradition, like every Lunar New Year, you go and do the, the some offerings to elders and show your appreciation. And the elders will-- basically elders are the living tradition, right? Like they can pass everything they have to the younger generation. So I love the elders of our community. Like they're very, they're very active, I don't know how -- that's maybe it's something about from, you know, that we're different. There's some gap, of course, between the generations, but they're different. They're like, they know what they do. They're very active, they come on time, and like, I love them. And they all know the Buryat language, you know, like, everybody speaks the Buryat language, which is amazing. So I really appreciate that. So yeah, we registered the organization, we teamed up and started our journey.

Claire Lavarreda  33:39  
I think it's just so amazing that it you started really from such a small, like seed, and now you're this massive, you know, like, organization, people.

Darina Sanzhieva  33:49  
And yeah, it's just me and my husband organizing, trying to organize something. We have the background organizing events, like my, my husband is a musician, and I was very active student in my university, I was everywhere, you know, like trying to organize here and there, like festivals. I had some background experience, of course, but then like, it's only you two, and there's 50 people, their audience, you know, right. So then we build up the team and, and now I can say like, that the team that I'm working with, it's like, they're very good. They're very good guys. They put like everything into this and it's not about money or something. It's they're literally, you know, like, they put their heart and souls into the traditional events and any gatherings we do.

Claire Lavarreda  34:37  
And we're back! But I got you. So knowing this, what are some goals the association currently has right now?  And I know we were discussing earlier about the several big festivals you've had, so if you could also describe those and plans for the future, that'd be great.

Darina Sanzhieva  35:05  
Yeah, so yeah, the main mission of the organization is to preserve our language, culture and rich history and heritage, that's the most thing, the most important thing we're trying to, to carry. So what we do is we always organized Lunar New Year, once a year, and then the summer festival. We're also organized like a religious events, like before the Lunar New Year, there's big prayer services in the temple. So we do that also. And it's not only about holidays, or celebrations. So any different, you know, like situations can happen in the community, like not only only good news, but bad news. So we try to...

Festivals, we organize another cultural festival. But that's a partnership with Center for Traditional Music and Dance. We do that--the main goal of the festival is to learn the language through the music. So I remember somebody, I think, yeah, it was Andrew Colwell from CTMD. And he was like, Hey, we can organize some festival about the language? What What, what, what's your vision? Like? What would you do? And like, well, I don't know, like, kids, it should be involved. I would love to involve the kids like to, to, you know, like to pass everything we have to the kids like what we start with? I guess the main issue is the language. So how do we teach them the language like the easiest way? And like, and then I came up to the idea, like, why don't we do the song festival? And then you learn the language through the art of music and song like, that's, that's also new idea. So any, any one very well, this is the third year we're organizing, and then yeah, and put it in then the kids got involved. And the second year, we had more kids this year, we have like 80 kids, it was like 15 kids before and then you know, like this year is 80 kids, participants. Okay, so we're doing something and it works. And it works. It's not only like boring languages, just put some courses of the language, we have the teacher of Buryat language, she does it online. But it's not something like boring, you know, like, yeah, you have to learn, it's not something like that. It's like through fun for kids, they want to sing, they want to participate, they want some gifts, you know, they want to stage and play. Right. So but then, but then you have to learn, so you should know what you're singing about, you know, the words, and then you should know how to pronounce it. So yeah, went very well.

That's what we do. And that's what our community's about.

Claire Lavarreda  38:19  
I think that's such an awesome, smart way of, of educating youth through music. I think it just it's so much more engaging, and just a really unique way to get them into the culture.

Darina Sanzhieva  38:33  
Especially Yeah, and that it's not like something fell from the sky, you know, from the sky. It's because I work with musicians, and I work with dancers and singers, and I know the culture and I thought, Oh, we have teachers, or we have dance teacher, we have vocal class...

Big, big interest. Kids were excited and interested in that.

Claire Lavarreda  39:09  
I think it's always good. If you can get like the kids interested, I feel like other people will follow like, as long as you get them and then you pass down, then you're good.

Darina Sanzhieva  39:16  
And also parents and also parents, because when kids are involved, parents will definitely be involved. Right? They will also join the Zoom classes or something, then you have to you have to make the Buryat outfit to be in the concert, your performer already, you know, like they're also in like involved in everything, all the process. So that's also a way to promote the culture. 

Claire Lavarreda  39:45  
And I think it's also just really beautiful that, you know, the elders are such an essential part of the community and so, so necessary. And at the same time you have kids kind of bringing in that new new energy like relearning, it just sounds like a really, really awesome dynamic going on.  And so then I want to talk a little bit. I know you mentioned managing the folk band Zerd. So I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about that. I listened to a video called Flurry Fest. And the music was really beautiful. But I was wondering if you could describe some of the instruments and their significance because some of them I didn't know.

Darina Sanzhieva  40:25  
Yeah, so Zerd is New York based Buryat Mongolian Folk Traditional band, specializes in traditional music and song and dance. This year, we've included dance. Those years, we had some dancers, but, you know, like, people come and go, like, you can't really keep them all together all the time. But this year, we have two professional dancers. They're in our band now. And yeah.

Claire Lavarreda  40:52  

Darina Sanzhieva  40:56  
Our music is all about nominalism. And we perform like, throughout America and different cultural festivals or any, you know, concert, we are invited. So we go there. The main thing of this band is not only to preserve our culture and tradition, but also would love to share our thousands of years of rich heritage to people who don't know about us, about the culture, about the music. So that's also mission of the band. Probably you've seen the Flurry Festival? Yeah, I think we had Morin Khuur or guitar and we were doing, I don't remember what we're doing there. We had so many festivals. So yeah, they were I think there was traditional horsehair fiddle. It's called Morin Khuur in Buryat. So horse head fiddle is a, it's a traditional Mongolian instrument. It's considered to be a symbol of Mongol nation. And also it is listed in UNESCO. Two string instrument played with-- what is this called? Bow Bow Bow? Oh, yeah. The...

Claire Lavarreda  42:13  
bow. Yeah, no, you're right. Yeah.

Darina Sanzhieva  42:15  
I'm always like, what? It's convenient. Yes. So yeah. And now, it's also a part of -- it's also endangered. I think it's an endangered instrument, if we can say that? Endangered languages, but like, instruments, do we say endangered? So yeah. And it's very few people who can play that instrument. And it's not that popular again. You know, like,

everything that is being eliminated is not popular, I don't know. But then we have the teacher of the Morin Khuur

we have the professional musician. He plays the Morin Khuur. He tries to teach the kids all so we bought our Morin Khuur for our kids. I hope they are going to learn to play. It's very hard, like two strings, you know, to play with. And they play only folk music. And we're planning a lot of festivals this fall, I think, yeah, we have some music and dance festival in Long Center in New York. And then there is another festival Marcopolo I think. So. Yeah. We try to participate everywhere to share. Yeah,

Claire Lavarreda  43:28  
yeah. I would love to see it live, that'd be so cool.

Darina Sanzhieva  43:32  
Yeah, I don't know about the Flurry Festival this year or that last year. I don't know. Because of COVID everything was you know, like, shut down. And then we, we were doing everything online. But this year, I really hope back to normal and we will be traveling around. So yes. Yeah.

Claire Lavarreda  43:50  
So on that was so far, all the questions I had, and I kind of opened it up to you. Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself? Your work your family?

Darina Sanzhieva  44:01  
Oh, well, I would love to invite you to our festivals to our events. All the info I put in my social media and Facebook. If you're in Facebook, probably you can check out like, I have recent videos from the summer festival where our was talking about 800 people, so you can check them out. And if you have any questions about the spellings of the words that yeah, I've been mentioning, I can always text you. And yeah, we're friendly community. Join us. Come to New Jersey. I live in New Jersey. I'll make some moves.

Claire Lavarreda  44:38  
Yeah, but I'm not far I'm only in Massachusetts. So that's not that far away. So we could totally be...

Darina Sanzhieva  44:44  
I work from home so yeah, I'm always home. So welcome. I'd love to meet you in person.

Claire Lavarreda  44:54  
Well, thank you for participating in the interview. I'm going to stop recording now. So I'll let it stop.



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