So the other day I got to return to the site where I trained last summer. The place where I lived with a Mongolian family for three months, learned my language and technical skills, and got to know some of my best friends in Peace Corps . I haven’t had the opportunity to return since I left for my Final Center Day training and site announcements. Which is hard to believe. It still feels like yesterday. While I was a little nervous to go back ( “I’m I really that memorable of a person???”) – any apprehension went away when I walked into the school , and the jijjuur , or “keeper of the keys” (who was a host mom last year), recognized me and gave me a hug.
The reason why I was able to go back was to teach some of the new trainees some topics of cross culture and talk to them about their overall experiences. Most of their families had had volunteers before and I could commiserate with them about the quirks of living at that site; from walking up and down the ‘hill of death’ multiple times a day, shenanigans in the woods and chill afternoons by the river. What made me incredibly happy was to see how content they felt about living here and how (especially after Mid-Center Days ) invested they felt their community was in Peace Corps and to the trainees. This particular community has had volunteers train there for years, and many families have hosted families for multiple years. They seemed to be really appreciative of their community, which made me incredibly happy.
I might have ended the session a little bit early to walk down said ‘hill of doom’ and check out if my family was home. Only my older sister was home, surrounded by a miscellany of cousins from the city. I could only stay for a half second, but my sister insisted I “‘sit, sit!'” and served some cold tea with bread and orum (Mongolian butter). Right before I left, she gave me a jar of her family’s honey which made me ecstatic. They easily harvest the best honey in all of Mongolia. Hands down. Its amazing though, that a year out, my host family still express their love and care through food. Not a bad deal.
In the end, my short experience going back to site made me realize how much we can make an impact by just being here. When I was catching up with the jijjuur, she asked after her daughter, on of my fellow trainees , who left for America after PST ended. She asked after her, asking if I had talked to her and that I should tell her that her Mongolian family misses her. That got me right in the gut. Even if tis been a year since she left, those ties are still there. It made me think, that even if this next year is a complete disaster in terms of work , or lack of it, I know that at least in one place in Mongolia I have made some really strong ties.
That was a little snippet of a moment that made my week. I hope to take up writing more on this blog and focusing on things that make my time here memorable. Here is to writing more frequently! – V.