New Developments in Mongolia

The first school break began 10 November.  Thus, I think it’s a good time to update y’all on my current status in Mongolia.  There have been a few landmarks in the past couple of weeks.

Around Halloween I realized that I never took the “Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” poem seriously.  Well, now I do.  A few friends and I were messing around jumping on a bed when I decided I would rather go sit down on the couch.  I should have paid more attention to the actual exiting of the bed because as I stepped off I landed right on top of my ankle and heard about the worst crunch imaginable.  The next morning I woke up to find my left ankle swollen to about twice the size of the right one.  I called the doctors and they instructed me to wrap it and wear a boot for a month.  Let me tell you, it’s so much fun walking around Mongolia in the winter with a big ol’ boot.  It felt like I was wearing only one ski boot at all times.  Well, my ankle is about all healed up now…thank goodness.  I only feel just a slight bit of residue pain when I walk down stairs.

Last night I was privileged enough to meet the American family in town.  They had just finished building their new home and invited the 5 of us serving in Ondorkhaan to dinner.  They moved to Mongolia about six years ago from South Carolina.  The couple has 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls.  The entire family is absolutely delightful.  Their new home is gorgeous and the food was delicious.  I am so happy that I got to meet them!  They are here doing missionary work and building greenhouses.

My cat has been improving its mouse-catching skills.  This was brought to my attention around 0400 this morning because it was darting all about my ger making a terrible raucous (it is in some need of some kitten mittens).  It wasn’t until I heard the death squeak that I realized it was chasing a mouse.  The craziness didn’t end there.  My cat didn’t seem to care that it’s very early in the morning and riding on a high from its triumph proceeded to make more noise and play with the dead mouse throwing it around like confetti.  At that moment, I was both proud and disgusted then went back to sleep before I could have time to realize how cold it was in my ger.

Tomorrow my counterparts will return from Ulaanbaatar after being there for 3 weeks.  It will be so nice to have them back.  I’ve really missed them.  They were there for a conference.  It turns  out that my school will be changing into a Cambridge style school.  Which means over the next few years it will be shifting into having most of its subjects taught in English.  I believe they will be starting with Math and Physics, then maybe adding more from there.  Only a few schools throughout the country were chosen.  So, there are some exciting developments to come.

Please let me know if y’all have any extra questions regarding Mongolia or Peace Corps and I can try to address them as soon as possible.  Hope all is well!

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A Daily Existence

So,  I was told to write another blog preferably about m daily life.  This is a good idea, however, my day to day schedule is so different, but I will do my best.

I wake up around 0830 to start getting ready for work.  I start a fire some mornings because my room is cold from the below freezing temperatures the night before and it is very difficult to find the motivation to change clothes in a cold environment.  Next, I make my coffee while waiting for my ger to warm up a little bit.  I then brush my teeth and hair and begin to apply my makeup.  In the middle of my concealer application I will realize my music is not playing and promptly turn on iTunes to give my ger some personality.  While deciding which clothes to wear I will munch on some bread-type pastry things that will serve as my breakfast for the day.  Finally, I will come to a decision and quickly move from one outfit to the next.  Now that I am dressed, I start storing anything I don’t want my new kitten to destroy inside my sleeping bag, and various drawers and cabinets.  Being fully satisfied that everything is hidden, I start walking the 15 minute journey to my school.  As I’m walking I will pull out my iPod to give my walk some flavor.  When I try to press play, though, I will see that I am out of battery again and left the spare battery pack at home.  No matter, I carry on and enjoy the scenery around me as I continue my walk.  I get to school and go up the stairs to the “teachers’” which is really the Internet-less Internet room.  I sit in there with the other teachers, talking, planning, or reading.  The time will come for me to go teach a 40 minute class and I go.  Usually helping the students with their pronunciation and listening skills.  After class, I find a place to have a lunch, whether it’s at my home or with another volunteer at a restaurant somewhere.  Then, I return to school around 1500 to help the students with preparations for the all-important English Olympics where many schools come together for their students to compete to be the best at English, generally speaking.  Finally around 1600 or 1700 I head home for the day.  I start the walk back about to pull out my iPod again, then remembering that I have no battery.  I stroll along until I reach the door to my ger.  Deep breath.  I open the door half-expecting everything to be completely ravaged by the “guard kitten”.  Luckily, everything appears fine so I scoop the little monster up to keep it from running outside and being devoured y street dogs.  Immediately, I change back into my warm flannel pajamas and sweats.  Feeling relieved that the day is done, I start doing dishes in order for me to make some dinner.  Dinner is done so I retrieve my Kindle from the depths of my purse and read another chapter in the book I am currently on.  If I am still too awake to sleep, I will take out my cross-stitching and maybe finish a thread or two.  Eventually, I fall asleep and start the routine over again until the weekend comes.

Let’s say the weekend is here.  I sleep for as long as I possibly can, which isn’t very long because my khaasha family are early birds that like to do construction.  I wake up and start cleaning my ger because I was too lazy to do it during the week.  I start with the dishes and wash them until my hands are pruned and freezing.  Sometimes simultaneously, I will start my laundry.  I don’t dread this portion as much anymore because I acquired a washing machine from some previous volunteers.  As each load finishes its spin cycle I hang up the clothes along the wooden rungs in my ger to dry.  Then it’s time to reorganize and sweep.  When that’s all done, I take my trash and dirty laundry water over to the main trash receptacle and outhouse respectively.  I come back inside and find that I have just enough water left to bathe in my luxurious tumpin.  I get some hot water and mix it with some cool water because there is no such thing as warm water and spend some time splashing water everywhere but inside my tumpin and, somehow in the process, become clean.  Fully clothed again, I check my water container.  It’s empty again.  I strap it to my khaasha family’s cart and wheel it about 5 to 10 minutes away to the well and fill it up.  Struggling to keep it upright on the way back, I finally arrive home and heave the now full and extremely heavy container into my ger.  I shut the door and look around fully satisfied with the cleanliness of my ger.  I sit down and figure out what to do next.

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New School Year

The first couple of days of school have been awesome!  However, I still do not have a schedule of the classes I’m supposed to teach.  My counterpart, and newest friend, told me that I may have it this week.  🙂  It is really exciting.

During the opening ceremony, on the first day, September 1, I had to give a speech in Mongolian in front of all the teachers, staff, and students.  It was so nerve wracking.  Come to find out that, this year, our school has 2026 students.  After classes all of the teachers went to go have dinner at this awesome Chinese restaurant.  They all said I spoke Mongolian very well, even though I was reading it off a note card.

I really like the school I am teaching at.  The teachers are so friendly and the children are (for the most part) very well behaved.  It made me nostalgic for my secondary school days.  ::sigh::  Also, it makes me want to substitute teach in my old school district and high school.  We’ll see if that happens after 21 more months though.

The structure of the school is much more different than that of the U.S.  The school day is divided in half.  Half the students come during the first half and the second during the second half of the day.  Also, the teachers change classrooms during the breaks and not the students!  It’s a very nice school though and I feel so lucky and happy to be teaching at the 12 Year Secondary School #1 in the fantastic city of Ondorkhaan.

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On Friday, August 20, I became one of the newest members of the Peace Corps Volunteer community!  Me and 66 others were sworn in as the 22nd group of volunteers in Mongolia.  That same day, we all left for the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and spent some time there gathering supplies, but mainly enjoying some quality time together before we all went our separate ways.

I was chosen to go to Хэнтий Аймаг, Ѳндѳрхаан Хот (Khentii Aimag, Ondorkhaan) .  I will be working at the 12 Year Secondary School #1.  I am so excited to start.  It has approximately 1800 students and over 100 faculty and staff.  So, it’s one of the larger schools in the area.  Since I’ll be here for a couple of years, I’ll need a place to live.  To fulfill that need, my Host Country Agency (HCA) provided me with my very own Mongolian ger.  It’s a very nice one too, I think.  I’m still scared about what it will be like living in a ger during winter though.  I think a cold front is coming through tonight too because the weather channel’s website is predicting lows in the 30s (degrees F)  for the rest of the week.

I can’t wait to start work tomorrow, but I’m also very nervous because our director told me that I have to give a “speech” to my fellow coworkers on the first day of school.  I am so nervous about it.  Mainly because it has to be in Mongolian.  Hopefully it will go well.

I’ll try to make more frequent updates now that I have Internet in my ger and will maybe have more things to write about once I start work.  Until then….everyone have a great and fun time! ^_^

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Almost There!

Last Sunday, 31 July, my host mother took me to Darkhan, and bought me a Mongolian del.  It is very beautiful.  It is a bright light blue and she bought me a leather belt with turquoise stones on it.  I can’t wait to wear it for swearing in.  I will post a picture of it as soon as I can.

Last week, we, also, started practice teaching.  I have been pleasantly surprised with how much I actually like teaching.  Hopefully, my new outlook on teaching will carry with me to my permanent site.  I cannot wait to meet the counterparts that I will be working with for the next two years.  Team teaching has been so much fun!   Hopefully, I will get to do a lot of it at site.

Training is almost at an end. A little over one week left.  The time is starting to pass by more slowly.  I think it is because anticipation is mounting for the announcements of our permanent site placements.  Hopefully, by the end of the day on Monday, 15 August, I should know where I will be living for the next 2 years of my life.  This Sunday, 7 August, 11 of us will be travelling to a monastery nearby, Amarbysalant (I have no clue how to spell it, sorry, :/).  I’m very excited for it.  It should be a lot of fun.  I think a couple of other training sites will be joining us out there as well.

So, here is a breakdown for my schedule for the upcoming big events for my life:

14 or 15 August:  I leave for final centre days

15 August:  I find out where I will be living for the next two years and can then purchase Internet accordingly (Site Announcements)

16-18 August :  Run around like a crazy person because I will be so excited and meet my new supervisor

19 August:  I become an official Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV); I will no longer be a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT) (Swearing In)

20 August:  I leave for my new home with my supervisor

So much is about to happen!  I can hardly wait.

Side note:  On 24 July, my younger sister became engaged to her awesome boyfriend (now fiancé)!  I am so stoked for them and sad I couldn’t be there, but I know they have to be happy which is terrific!  Celebrating this great event is another thing I get to look forward to when I return to the states in August of 2013.

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Half-Way Through

Hey everyone!  We’re about half way through PST which means Mid-Center Days are coming up for all of us M22s!  I’m super stoked about it.  I will try to be on Skype a few times since there may be a couple of places I may be able to link up.  I will be there on Monday, Tuesday, and most of the day on Wednesday, but I have no idea what my schedule will be like yet.

More news though on how I’ve been adjusting.  I’m running out of money quicker than I would like; however, I have managed to make it last the duration it’s supposed to, but it will be kind of tight over this last week.

I miss all of y’all and hope to give you a more detailed update sometime soon.

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News Flash!

The Micro Teaching on Friday went okay…I guess. Haha. I have a lot of work to do. We get to do a lesson on reading, today. Hopefully, I will be able to fill up my entire 20 minutes this time. Haha. We had our third Micro Teaching today. I was way under on my time again and need to find a way to come up with more complicated activities. Haha

Also, today, Meghan and I get to start our community development project. I hope it goes well, I have no experience with these sort of things.

I finally did my first round of tumpun laundry. It wasn’t that bad. I think I got everything clean, but I used too much soap, I think. That could make for some uncomfortable clothing until I am able to wear them in again. :/ Oh well. Haha. As long as they’re clean and don’t smell so bad anymore, then I am happy, haha.

Round 3 of shots are coming up next Sunday, 3 July. It will be fun and awesome to see everyone from the different sites again! I’m a little nervous about it though because our town’s celebration of Nadaam is that same weekend and some of my site mates want to return early, but I really want to lounge around the big city for a while. Oh well, we can’t always get what we want. Haha. I am excited for my first Nadaam. On Saturday, they are having the big horse races. Then, on Sunday, they will have the archery, wrestling, and a show later that evening with the traditional dances and such. So exciting!!

A bit of trivia: I have started taking Mongolian dance classes and learning traditional Mongolian dance. It is a lot of fun. It is definitely the highlight of most of my days! ^_^

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