Week 9 – Staying Busy and Kishi Bashi

Note: This was written Oct 22, 2013. Read the below for what took me so long.

So I wish I could say that being a Peace Corps Volunteer means that you get to bum around in exotic locales  and two magical years will go by. However, it is truly astonishing how fast things seem to be going and how “busy” seems to hit you like a train. 

In general, there is a general conduciveness to being busy here, for a variety of reasons . Events really do drop out of the sky in Mongolia, then it’s a mad scramble to just get it done and survive. Of course that’s how I feel internally. Yet everyone of my counterparts just  sighs, and commences with getting the event together. Whether its grabbing students to make teams for a competition or even other teachers for a competition ( If you haven’t noticed, most events here are competitions. Which just makes me realize I’m not a very competitive person… ). The amazing thing about all this is… it works . I’m sure this is due to my observation that most Mongolians have a “nothing-will-phase-me” attitude. I think another word is stoic. Something I should develop. Maybe it helps with the cold….

Nothing really exemplifies this scrambling activity more then the last couple weeks. With all the clubs,  a competition this past weekend, Halloween coming up, a spelling bee this week and hopefully an event of my own (cross my fingers, grit my teeth) within these next couple weeks; All I can do is basically hold my breath and hold on for the ride.
I did have several epiphanies recently that do make me feel better about “projects” in general. Today I was helping a group of 11th graders prepare for an (English) spelling bee. It eventually devolved into talking about scary movies. I mentioned the project I have been planning. Without getting into details,  I’m going to need older students to help teach younger kids. I was kind of astounded by their willingness to help out. It was very encouraging.

 The second epiphany came to me as I was wrestling with the washing machine in the evening, wondering about the organization of this project. How the heck would this work? If it happens at all? Then I realized that part of my stress is that  due to the fact, that when it comes to projects … I’m very American. I would like an agenda, and have the student leaders go through a training  ya da ya da. Then I thought about my objectives. Which is I would like the participants to have activities  over the school break, learn team building games,  and just have fun in a safe space. For the student leaders, I would like them to feel empowered to have to lead these teams and have ownership over an event. Do I really need to micromanage every detail ? No. What I need is kids to be present, show up and have my student counterparts be prepared to teach and have a good time. 

Guess what guys! You just glimpsed into the mind of  almost every Peace Corps Volunteer… EVER. Wrestling with logistics, doing projects with counterparts and just plain getting things done. Exciting, huh ?

To get away from the projects and plans, I have been doing other things. I’ve been trying to work out most mornings. Lots of pilates… which hurts. A lot. I  listen to a lot of podcasts. I experiment with how to make cabbage taste good. I read books.  I actually have finished my 20th book since I arrived in Mongolia… Maybe I should get out more. Or not… reading keeps me sane and allows me to decompress.

 Oh! I do listen to music. Listen to “Shake” by the Head and the Heart. Also “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With it!” By Kishi Bashi. Trust me, they’re both excellent. Those two songs have pretty much been my playlist for the last couple weeks.   Recommend me things as well, if the mood strikes you. 

Yeah ,  this is my life, and if you’re reading this blog, better persevere. Hopefully you are in this for the long haul.  Let me know what you want to know.



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