The final PST (Pre-Service Training) Days in Darkhan were pretty busy. We had lots of paperwork and other evaluations to do. It was also very stressful, because a lot of information about the next two years of our lives was being given to us then: site placements and supervisor introductions. We also had to practice all of our “acts” for the swearing-in ceremony.
The site announcements and supervisor introductions were both done very well. For site placements, they laid out a huge map of Mongolia and would call out place and name one at a time, and the person would go stand on their site. This is fun, but also helpful because you could see where you were in relation to other people. They called my name out second to last (I was a little worried they had forgotten me), and I couldn’t find my place on the map. After a little help from some Mongolian staff they put me on the right spot at Shiveegovi, not near anyone else whatsoever. For supervisor introductions, the volunteers stood on one side of the auditorium and the supervisors stood on the other side. Ken (PC Mongolia country director) called out the name of the site and the volunteer and supervisor would meet in the middle and everyone would clap. As we are all a little new to Mongolian, there were a few mistakes made, leading to the embarrassment of some and amusement of the other volunteers.
Swearing-In was very entertaining as well. The American ambassador to Mongolia, Ken, and Chimgee (PCM staff in charge of training) all spoke and had some interesting things to say about our service here. Unfortunately the President of Mongolia wasn’t able to speak this year as he did last year. After these people spoke, host communities received a certificate and a donation of books, host families received a certificate (they are big on certificates and medals here in Mongolia), and each volunteer received a certificate proving our status as a full Peace Corps Volunteer to Mongolia. After all these certificates, a few volunteers gave speeches in Mongolian of which I was the first. Then we all danced, sang, and played the Mongolian dances, songs, and instruments that we learned during training. We had some excellent outfits for the dance that we did, I’ll work on getting some pictures for you all to help you understand how great these outfits were. Most acts went fine, and the couple that didn’t were appreciated for their attempt, and everyone was so excited about being done with training at the end of it that no one really cared. Only thing left in Darkhan was saying good-bye to host families for the last time and packing, yet again.
Those of us who weren’t staying in or leaving directly from Darkhan (most of us) went to UB to grab some last minute supplies and catch whatever mode of transportation that we were to be taking to our home for the next two years. Peace Corps has given us about a suitcase worth of stuff since we have been here, plus I have all the stuff I brought from home. Tuesday consisted of getting all this stuff from the dorm room to a car, from the car onto the train, from the train to another car, from the car up to the 4th floor of an apartment building that I will be calling home. It was a pretty painless ordeal because, thankfully, my supervisor’s two kids and a friend made the trip with us and helped me move all the baggage. I spent the rest of the night unpacking and settling in. Oh yea, the apartment is 2 rooms and a bathroom with a hot-water shower (amazing). Each room is about dorm room size, and there is a small balcony to dry clothes on. Pretty simple, but is much bigger and nicer than I expected after being here this long. I have to admit, when its -40C and I am in my heated apartment taking a warm shower, I will not be jealous of the people living in gers.
Shiveegovi is a soum (town) of 3,000 in the aimag (province) of Govisumber, which only totals 13,000 itself. It is southeast of Ulaan Baatar on the train (which is very nice), about 5-6 hours. After the Russians left, miners’ took over the town as their own because there were already the buildings in place. The buildings that they did not need, they mostly tore down for the bricks, etc, to use for things like new buildings and walls. So the town has a very bombed out feel to it because of the building ruins. Other than the few 5 story apartment buildings, the school, a bank/post office/ government/ police building, a few stores, and a few houses and gers on the outskirts there is not much to the town. But I guess what else can you expect from a town of 3,000? I have met a few of the other teachers and they are all very sweet. They came over last night to keep me company and cook for me.
So I guess that things are going to settle down a little. There is a teachers’ conference in the aimag center, Choyr, Monday-Tuesday, and then I begin school on Friday. After that, I will mostly just be teaching, making some new friends, being cold (soon), and doing the whole living in Mongolia thing. I’m sure I will have adventures teaching and dealing with the cold, and I’m sure I will be going on some trips and doing various other activities. We’ll just have to see what happens.
Also, I have a new address and a cell phone that you can reach me at. The cell number is +(976) 9115-4177. If you go online and look for a calling card, you can get them very cheap, rather than spending $7 a minute to just call me regular (or just call my parents and they can tell you how to get a calling card). My address will work in English, but should be written in Cyrillic to ensure that is gets here. However, there is a story that someone sent s PCV a package with “Hrvoje, Mongolia” as the address, and it got to him.
Here it is in English, and I’ll attach a picture of the Cyrillic one somehow.
11 Year Secondary School
Mongolia (via China)
11. жил сургуулъ