Week 7 – Waiting Patiently and Traffic Circles

Reminder : Always check whether you have power before you leave your Soviet bloc apartment to head to school and attempt to access the internet. Even though I’m pretty sure my apartment had electricity, looking back on it,  I’m not completely sure. All I can really think about was  that all the puddles on my way to school were iced over. The mountains around town also got a light dusting of snow, so as a result I did wear my ski jacket for the first time last night. I might have gotten laughed at. But I would rather be comfortably warm then any alternative…  Now as  I wait for the power to hopefully come on in the next  hour or so, this leaves me to chronicle my week. Which I’m sure will be very ‘exciting’ for all of you.  ( As  a postscript, the power didn’t turn on at all that day. So much for waiting patiently)

So this week  was pretty interesting. The majority of it involved me helping my sitemate with her dental awareness project, where she was obtaining data on most of 1st through 3rd graders in all of the schools in Uliastai. Considering that every store in the entirety of Mongolia usually an entire aisle dedicated to candy  and sweets, lets just say there were some interesting cases of tooth decay and cavities. The more interesting cases we took pictures of.  Which makes me pity  the people who have to do this for medical journals. Anyhow…

On top of that, a teachers seminar  occurred this weekend. So that meant my room got taken over by teachers for poster making and other things (Mongolians love posters). This subsequently meant that none of my clubs could really happen. This room where I spend most, if not all my time,  is called child development room… which ironically none of the kids could use this week. It just really emphasized to me that there is no such thing as perfection here. You just got to role with the punches.

 If anything, with no school occurring on Friday because of the teachers seminar, I got the time plan out most of my month. I planned out my song club up to the next three weeks, come up with lesson plans for  my small English club for the next two weeks, figured out flyers for an Alcohol Awareness project for high school students with my social worker, and most importantly – Halloween. Got to plan that party. Apparently people love Halloween here.

And what did you do for the rest of your weekend you ask? Plenty.

Killed multitudes of flies. They seem to really love my apartment, even though I have massacred dozens of their brethren.  One benefit of winter coming… maybe they will all freeze. This sounds vicious, and usually I don’t mind flies, but I do mind flies that are second cousins to helicopters. I shouldn’t be able to hear one fly buzzing around in the kitchen when I’m in my bedroom. Just sayin’.

I also spent a lot of time waiting for people to come to seal my windows. Which didn’t happen and I do want it to. My kitchen windows are especially drafty, so I did wait for quite a bit. Waiting  in this country offers up  a constant debate in my mind. Is this maintenance guy working on Mongolian time, or is he just not showing up? Well this time it was the latter.

I did get to update my Kindle with all sorts of newspapers … I wouldn’t say that I’m a current events enthusiast, but rather I  am an interested member of global citizenry. Basically, I feel its good to be informed. I also just love the variety of articles that I can read, which is the main reason I love the Economist. Did you know in the latest issue, there were two, not one , but two articles about round-a-bouts , or in American, traffic circles ??? Mostly going over their value as a British export, and how they work to varying degrees in certain places. Apparently, the first traffic circles in America were built in Nevada. And they are cheaper then traffic lights… at least to run and maintain. … Looking over what I just wrote kind of makes me gag. But hey , what else I’m I supposed to do ? Not read about traffic circles ? Anyways…

I looked up a variety of children songs for song club. Which there are a lot of. If anyone has any personal favorites, let me know. They have to be simple, because the 5th graders I work with have just started learning English, if at all, so “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is pretty much a ‘reach’ song at the moment. A little story about what happened this week actually…

Since my ‘class room’ got taken over, on Wednesday I moved my song session outside, and the entire thing devolved into me just teaching playground games… which didn’t even go that well, because my Mongolian isn’t that great. One of the games that was really well received was “Down by the Banks”. If you’re not familiar with this game, its where you are in a circle and you go around clapping each others hands in sequence till the song ends with “ker-plop”. If your hand gets smacked you’re out, if you pull your hand away, the smackee is out. Rinse and repeat till there is only one kid left to receive subsequent glory.  Anyways, the kids loved it, but it meant I was singing the rhyme for, what felt like hours, but what was really 20 minutes.  Way too long to be singing about bull frogs jumping from bank to bank… Now that I think about it, I don’t even know if I was singing the right lyrics. But the kids seem to enjoy themselves which is the important thing.  But that’s what I’m going to teach them next time, “Down By The Banks” so they can play it themselves. Now that’s what I call sustainability.

Also, Sunday is what I call pre-emptive strike day. Mostly cause it’s the day I comb out my dreadlocks. OK, I might be exaggerating but its true. Due to the nature of my hair, there are definitely parts of my curly locks that get incredibly matted and if I don’t take care if of it, then the problem just escalates. Luckily its so dry here my hair doesn’t get as poufy (the technical term) as it would normally if I comb it as rigorously back in the States.

As you see, the things that occupy my time. The time consuming. The important. Also a little bit of mindless drivel. All  things that happen when you’re  waiting patiently for the electricity to turn on. It might even drive you crazy. Crazy enough to read two articles about traffic circles.

As always I hope this finds you well, and someone please send me something more interesting to read please (!),

-V.

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One comment

  1. I like the image of you in a playground with a bunch of kids playing hand-games. It is so cute and suiting. I’m glad you’ve found a rhythm. These posts are amazing. Keep it up!

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