Well, I have been busier than I thought possible here in Mongolia. I should really start writing down just little bits at a time as they happen rather than trying to recap it all at once in one big update, as I am sure I will be forgetting some events that happened.
So, like I said, I’ve been very busy. Several trips to Choyr, UB, hosting visitors here, and traveling out to Sukhbaatar Aimag for a Peace Corps conference. I have traveled into Choyr and UB with my director for various reasons, usually for a night or even for just an afternoon. A trip into UB, although a little over six hours on the train, or about 3 in a car, is pretty easy. I feel like it could be compared to a 2 or so hour trip in America, one where you are willing to go in for just an afternoon, but you wouldn’t want to do it all the time. The trips have been the usual: meeting with different agencies (or not being able to and being very frustrated about the whole process), seeing other PC friends, and eating foods which amaze me in their variety yet would amaze most of you in their lack there of (like chicken, corn, spinach).
I also hosted a little mini-conference here in Shivee. I brought 2 UB volunteers and the volunteer from Choyr here for 2 nights. Three of us are on the trafficking in persons committee, so we talked mostly about getting information onto the train lines to increase awareness and prevention. The other UB volunteer is a CYD (Community Youth Development, whereas I am TEFL-Teaching English as a Foreign Language) volunteer and he came to talk to my school’s new social worker about teaching the students Life Skills. We also did some fun activities like go out to the mountain and hike around a bit, and we went to a house warming. The UB volunteers don’t get to do as many real Mongolian things because they live in the city which is much less traditional than the rest of the country.
Last weekend I was in Sukhbaatar Aimag, Baruun-Urt Soum (Aimag capital) for a much larger PC seminar on trafficking, HIV/AIDS, and life skills. 18 PCVs along with 11 of our Mongolian counter-parts attended the seminar, and it went really well. PCVs gave presentations on Saturday on the various topics, and the Mongolian counter-parts taught lessons on the material to local students on Sunday and were then given feedback on their lessons. We also had two Halloween parties while we were there, on Friday at the school for the students, and Saturday at an apartment for the volunteers and counter-parts. One of the two volunteers who live in that site, Matt, had written a mass-email home asking for Halloween decorations, and he received 11 boxes full of stuff from various friends. So he had some really great decorations for his apartment and the school. Tons of candy and everything, it was great. (So maybe next Halloween I will do the same thing and try to create a American-like Halloween for my students here….) Everyone did their best to put together a costume. I was a buuz which is a local favorite dumpling. It was a lot of fun seeing M17s that I hadn’t seen since swearing-in and meeting some new M16s. Getting a bunch of Americans together after sending them off to live by themselves in rural Mongolia for a while definitely leads to fun times sharing stories, reconnecting, and partying.
Next week I will be going to Beijing with Govi-Sumber education administration people. I’m very excited to be invited on such a big trip with them, and I am expecting to make some good friends and have a good time. I will be there for a week and will let you all know all about it when I get back. Hope all is well.