Saturday, October 9, 2010

Homeward Bound... and internetless once again.


I'm done. I've had my fill of internet for 2 months. I'm going to take a shower (!!!!!!!!!!), hang out with some friends, and then hit the (dirt) road. Hope this satisfies your curiosity for a bit... Looks like the next time I'll be updating is Thanksgiving...

Or, you could exercise self control and only read one of these blog posts per week...

Or, you could send me a letter :)

Arrivederci! Or more appropriately, I suppose, Bayartay!


Dilguun is my 6 year neighbor. He is so sweet and friendly. He practically lives with me in my ger. We color, watch kids movies, and flip through books together. He teaches me Mongolian and I teach him English. Also, he is a natural at frisbee. The kid could be a prodigy (and will be when I start my ulti-Mongol frisbee team). Anywho, I thought I'd introduce you all to the new man in my life.

He likes me I swear!


And failing.

Манай Сургууль*

*My School

I have officially started my job as a teacher! It is very fun and very challenging work... I am left exhausted after a day of teaching. I teach 4th-9th graders (though, due to a change in the school system, there is no 6th grade this year... they are going from an 11 year system to 12). As it turns out, kids at those ages are snots across the world. But, I love my students... they are very passionate about learning and are super excited about learning English from an American.

Students start taking English in 4th grade. It is very excited to be be teaching them because I will be able to see how far they come in these two years. The 9th graders are a bit trickier. The first day of class, I had to teach them greetings because no one could respond to "How are you?" And they had been studying for 5 years. However, this is pretty common across the board. Most English teachers do not actually speak English. They teach directly out of the (GOD AWFUL) textbooks. All students can really do is read and write. It's really frustrating because I am expected to be teaching out of those textbooks but the material is waaaay too advanced for them. Hopefully my director won't find out that I have been totally ignoring the textbook so far...

On Mondays, I also teach the English Club which is really fun because I get to do whatever I want. We had a lesson on sports the other day and I taught them all about baseball. I brought in newspaper clippings of the Sox and Cubs and trained all my little minions to love the Sox and hate the Cubs. :)

Soon, I'll be starting 2 classes for adults in the evenings. I'm tired now... I can't imagine how tired I'll be then...

We have a computer lab (internetless), a cafeteria, and chalkboards that don't suck (trust me, that's a huge deal). It is only 1 year old, so mostly everything is "state of the art" - relatively speaking. We even have indoor plumbing, but for some unknown reason it is never used. Ever. Kids still go to the bathroom in the jothlons behind the school. I just don't understand it.

The other teachers are so nice... I really enjoy working with them. The gym teacher is currently training me to play table tennis so that I can compete with them in the spring. Watch out Forrestt.

And that... is that!

Dariganga Soum


I type you now after an exhausting two days of playing internet catch-up. 500 email deletions, 120 FB photo uploads, and 15 skype calls later, I am finally getting around to blogging.

So about my town.

Dariganga is a soum on the Chinese border, population 2000. It is a beautiful place. Many tourists stop through here in the summer to hike the sacred mountain and swim in the lovely lakes. There are a chain of lakes that all start at the natural spring just outside town.

But I have told you all this before.

Living in Dariganga has, thus far, been mostly pleasant. I still get the occasional gawks from strangers, but most people know about me now. I have made many friends with fellow teachers and shop owners and my students are always quick to greet me when they see me. All the shop owners know my habits and what I like to buy, so I sometimes get personalized calls from them letting me know something I like is in stock. Actually, for my birthday, my students went to the shops and asked what I always buy... I ended up with 7 of my favorite chocolate bars, bless their little hearts. I am willing to bet there are no more Alpine Gold bars left in town.

Currently, hoof in mouth disease is tearin apart this side of the country and the Mongolians are freakin. Fair enough since their livelihood depends on their animals. But as a result, they keep randomly putting my soum under quarantine. I almost didn't make it up here this weekend. For the first month I was here, no cars were allowed in or out... including mail services. That sucked. But when they opened the roads again, I was showered with letters and packages from all you lovely people (it means SO much to me to know you love and care about me). It was like Christmas! So if it takes a while for me to respond... that's why. :)

Life here is pretty slow. When I am not teaching I am writing letters, reading, or watching movies. There isn't exactly a night scene and most of my friends are married with children so I spend my weekends by myself. It's a very lonesome way to live, but I am confident that it'll get better with time. It's very nice to sneak up to the aimag capital to hang out with fellow PCVs, even if I only get to do it once every 2 months.

I love my site very much... it's just stunning and the people are great. It is certainly taking its toll on me being so isolated. I miss everyone very much and look forward to Thursdays (mail day!).

Oh. And the swans are here!

Алтан Ѳвѳѳ

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ger Sweet Ger...

There she is! Home sweet home!

The Panoramic View

Door, water barrel, and "bathroom"

My desk

"Kitchen" - the bright green bin is my tumpun... where i bathe and do my laundry.

Fuel for the fire. It's Cow Dung.

The rafters of my ger... where all your letters end up :)

My bookshelf, complete with pictures of all you folk I miss at home

This is my home for the next two years! It is real small, but I like it. Notice that I am sleeping on 2x4s again... I am going to need the name of a good chiropractor when I get back. Anyhow, my ger is a community hot spot... As I mentioned in previous posts, privacy isn't quite understood here. I get lots of visitors all the time from teachers to neighbors to students to curious community members who want to know what an American looks like. It is really frustrating at times, but I can't change a culture so I had better be getting used to it. They LOVE to look at pictures of all of you guys. My photo album is always being flipped through. It's comforting to me too... I get to describe all the important people in my life while looking at pictures of everyone I love and miss. The Mongolians are impressed with all you blondies... Amar horhoon... How beautiful! They also ask me about every single boy in the album... In chinny nohor bain uu?... Is this your husband? I've given up... Yes, Pat, Adam, and Stephen, you have all been introduced as my husband at some point.

Well that's my home! Come visit and I can give you a REAL tour!

How to Roast a Marmot

Find and empty contents of Marmot.

Fill Marmot with previously emptied Marmot meat, fiery hot stones, onions, and an obscene amount of salt.

Tie 'er up.

While the fiery hot stone cook the inside, take measures to roast the outside. In this demonstration, a blowtorch was used.

Air leaking out somewhere? Whittle yourself a little plug and stop that leak!

What a hairless, headless beauty.

Clean 'er up...

Slice 'er open... and enjoy!