So on this lazy Sunday… I’m sitting at my kitchen table… OK, actually it’s a big lid for a flour bin, but for all intents and purposes its my kitchen table… drinking half-way-decent instant coffee (Thanks Mom), listening to podcasts, and surrounded by all my Mongolian textbooks and work books… I have decided to write a lovely blog post about those little things that make living in Mongolia… well living in Mongolia.
First off, I have been busy.. Here is just a little glimpse into my schedule…
After I slowly roll out of bed at around 7:30, I put on a workout video (which I may end up doing..) while my hot water boils for my all important coffee in the morning. After that, and after finding the perfect combination of long underwear and fleece to wear, I tramp over to school at around 8:30. From then on anything can happen. A teacher might ask me to watch her class, or install a printer driver/antivirus program on a computer. After some investigative questions, my counterparts found that I have some sort of background involving music, so I have been saddled with helping out with “English Music” clubs through out the week. Two sessions with 5th and 6th graders, then two sessions with 8th to 11th graders. Oh yeah, there is no 7th grade at my school… there just isn’t. Basically there has been a lot of “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”, and whatever random songs I can find online. With the older kids I can get away with teaching some easier Beatles songs. So far things have been going well, and I’m thankful for the chance to meet some kids who aren’t in my English clubs. Which is another activity I do.
The English clubs at my school have been up and running thanks to the awesome work of the Peace Corps volunteer who proceeded me. On top of that, I help out with a speaking club that my social worker tailored for student leaders of clubs… which has been interesting. Mostly in that because the emphasis is speaking, I usually have been playing a lot of games. I even incorporated a game of “I’ve Never…” into the class. However, since there was more of a push from the social worker for the club to happen then from the actual students… attendance has been lagging. However, I have opened it up to all kids who want to practice their English, and that also has just been nice to meet kids, and talk about what their lives are like and what they like about their school. Overall through every meeting of my groups, I learn more about what their lives are like, what strengths are at my school and how the school could capitalize on that.
So… if you can tell, there is a lot happening. Sometimes I even have a hard time getting a handle on it. But being busy is a good state of being, and in my lulls in my day, I can study Mongolian with the random 4th grader that wanders into my room (or as I like to call them, my Mongolian teachers) , keep getting to know my counterparts and formulate ideas about possible future projects.
Even weekends are busy. Because I haven’t much experience at all with teaching English, every Saturday I watch my site mates teach a series of English lessons at the local library. Then there is a Monglish night at a local restaurant, where we get to talk with Mongolians in the community who speak English or are learning English. On top of that, we meet up as just Peace Corps volunteers (sometimes even with the Japanese volunteers in town) and have awesome cooking extravaganzas. Like making pizza from scratch (who needs those premade pizza crusts anyways…)and nachos, also from scratch. I’m going to be coming back from Mongolia with all sorts of skills… like how to make cookies in a less then ideal toaster oven.
Even then there are surprises. I am always meeting people , whether its social workers from other schools, or even a random restaurant owner who knows English, and invited us all to watch a soccer game… or excuse me, football game. Chelsea vs. Tottingham. Gotta love those games that end in a tie.
Some other random snippets (because I’m lazy):
I now buy my cheese by the kilo. Actually most of my food, comes by the kilo. When you aren’t sure whether that one store that sells cheese will actually have cheese week to week, you see something and buy all of it. No shame.
Everyone here loves basketball. I would even say its more popular then soccer. When ever I strike up a conversation with any boys at my school they invariably ask me “Do you play basketball?” and “What’s your favorite basketball team?”. One kid asked me if I was related to Tyson Chandler… that was weird.
There are a ton of stray dogs in Mongolia, and out West where I am, they are the size of dire wolves. But they are comparatively harmless compared to the dogs that people actually own. Those dogs are vicious. Except my site mate’s haasha dog Simba. Simba is awesome. Also a common dog name here is Aslaan. Which apparently means lion, borrowed from the Turkish language group. Learn something new everyday.
I listen to music more actively then I have in a really long time. Right now I have been listening to a lot of Animal Collective. If anyone has recommendations let me know.
I also listen to podcasts a lot. Its incredibly convenient for life out here… I can listen to podcasts while hand washing my clothes, chopping up tough mutton or whatever chore that requires a lot of attention or use of hands. So if anyone has any recommendations concerning podcasts that are informative and interesting, those would be much appreciated.
Finally I read a lot. Recommend books.
This is my life… Maybe with details left out, but I will leave that for my memoirs. The important thing is I’m keeping busy and being active. As I’m sure I have mentioned before, I feel more motivated then I have in a long time. There is something super satisfying with random kids coming up to you and calling you teacher or just being happy to see you. Even with just talking with counterparts and seeing what their lives are like. Everyday has been new, and nothing has been predictable so far. Which is just the way I like it. Till later,