Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Good Ol' USA

Well, I am finally back in the USA, which was not the plan, but at least it gives me a moment to actually sit down and talk about what has been going on. I believe the last thing that I talked about was going to IST (In-Service Training), which was held in the Nukht hotel in the mountains north of UB. Training was a lot of fun and very informative, but it doesn’t feel important to talk about it a lot now, in light of what has happened since.

After IST, just about every volunteer stuck around UB for a few extra days so that we could all spend Christmas together. The party, held on Xmas eve, was held at the same place that we did Thanksgiving, and was, once again, a very good time. A live band (of ex-pats and locals) played and then allowed the PCVs to play on own our afterwards. There, of course, was plenty of good food and wine as well. Towards the end there was a gift exchange, Yankee Swap, because ever Xmas needs a little commercialism.

Although most of the PCVs went home on Xmas day or the day after to get back to site as staying longer required using vacation days (of which we get 2 in country and 2 out of country a month, and we can save up as much as we want), most of my better friends stuck around. My friend Rob’s parents and girlfriend were flying in from Atlanta on the 26th, and we all wanted to meet them. Rob’s dad was a PCV in Samoa back in the 60’s, and it was really interesting chatting with him about the similarities and differences in both cultures and the PC program over the years. Rob’s dad became a anthropologist due to his time in the PC, so he obviously had some very clever things to say on these subjects.

The holidays had been great so far, but unfortunately, my reason for being home at the moment is made clear soon. On the 28th, two of my friends, Hanna and Hannah, and I got on a train to go to my site where we were all going to spend New Year’s together as my site was in the middle of the 3 and none of us wanted to spend New Year’s Eve alone. However, when we arrived I learned that one of the 10th grade students that I had been teaching was found dead after being missing for 3 days. As you can imagine, we decided to leave town as soon as we learned this information.

I spent the next few days, until Jan. 2nd, in Sainshand with my two friends, having no idea about what was going on in Shiveegobi. Mostly, I was worried about the impact of a girl’s being raped and murdered would have a great impact on a town of 2,000. The fact that she was my student made me extremely uncomfortable, and I felt that the incident would affect my teaching. Ultimately, I felt that if I could teach in Shivee, I could teach anywhere, and there was no reason for me not to change my location.

My director and I tried to work to change my site. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay at my site, but I also couldn't change locations. In order to move for safety reasons, I had to move some place safer. In Mongolia, safer means smaller. At this time, there are no smaller sites that were available to place me. I fell through the cracks. It is unfortunate that I had to leave before the end of my service, but I left on good terms, with full understanding why it had to be that way.

After an extremely emotional day packing up my apartment and saying goodbye to all of the friends that I had made, I went back to UB to begin filling out all the paper work in order for me to leave. It’s amazing how fast information can travel, even in a place like Mongolia: I was receiving text messages and phone calls about me leaving even before the final decision was made. I left on the 12th, and after an evening in Beijing, I was back on American soil, giving big hugs to the folks.

Although wonderful to back in the States for various reasons, it is a little strange being back at the same time. The trip was cut short; I was there only about 7 months when I was planning on being there for 27 months. I feel like my Mongolian was finally starting to pick up. I was finally making some good Mongolian friends in UB, and I was finally getting comfortable teaching and working with my English teacher counter-parts in Shivee.

Now, I’m at my parent’s house in San Jose contemplating whether or not I want to go back to Mongolia to continue teaching (or doing some other sort of work) on my own, whether I want to reapply for the Peace Corps to do a program somewhere else in the world, or whether I want to get some sort of job in the States. And, of course, if I go back to Mongolia, what will I do, if I rejoin Peace Corps, where will I go, and if I work here, what sort of job will I find? These decisions are never easy, but I feel that this list of options is a little bigger than normal. I’m pretty positive about the whole process though, and I’m sure it will work out for the best. As you know, any decisions will be posted here, and as I always say, hopefully more often than before.


Blogger Sundy Visbal said...

I am eager to find out what you are doing now??????
Hope all is well!

6:51 PM

Anonymous Lenka said...

This is great info to know.

9:01 PM


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