I have been in Mongolia barely a week and I already feel at home here! The adventure began last week flying to San Fransisco, then met with all of our group; 75 volunteers in all. We (the M21’s; ) are the 21st group of PCV’s sent to Mongolia, even though volunteeers have only been coming here since 1992.
A group of highly talented individuals, we each fit into one of four work areas. Community youth development (the best of course as these are my peeps) has 9 of us, health is also a small group, community economic development-smallest, and the largest is english (teaching as foreign language.
Our first few days were spent in Zhumond where we lived in a dorm and experienced orientation. Here we were living the life of luxury with warmish running water for showers, flush toilets supplied with toilet paper and pretty good food. However, I must say that it was after the first 3 days I decided my system just cannot handle the meat….I have become a vegetarian(at least for now…)
Now each job group has gone to separate towns for our training. We just got here to Altuzi on Thursday and were warmly welcomed by our families who were just as excited and as nervous as we were, with a lovely ceremony at the local school. My family is so cute, a young married couple (they are 26) with a one month old baby and a 20 year old sister. I have my own ger which is lovely! My hasha family has their own ger as well, where the four of them live. Hasha is the fenced in yard which is quite large and includes a shed for storage along with the hasha dog. Dogs here are not pets and are used to guard their hasha. Mine seems docile and is tied up near the shed and main family ger.
In our small town of 3,000 residents, water is hauled from various spots by homeowners daily. Water sanitiation is a huge problem all over the country. Partly this is caused by the old Russian system of waste water pipes being built over fresh water pipes, so that when pipes rusted, waste contaminated the fresh water supply. People here always boil their water before use, and don’t generally drink water, instead enjoy regular tea, or milk tea, or bottled sodas, juices, etc.
Peace Corps supplied us with a water filter system which is tall and plastic…. You pour water in top, it is cleaned by the candle type filter and flows clean….yea! I carry my 32 oz water bottle everywhere! Bottled water is available, though it can get expensive to buy all the time!
Here as in most of Mongolia, outhouses are the norm. In my hasha family, ours is located 47 steps at a slight angle from my ger door…. I practiced this my first day, in case of night visits. Last night I used this skill, it was accurate…. The outhouse is new and fresh, with a slot in the floor. Paper is always put separately in a trash can.
Our CYD classes start in full swing Monday, though Friday and the previous week we have had intro classes. The language is quite beautiful and interesting souding to me….lots of rolled r’s and gutteral sounds. If anyone has suggestions for how to learn to roll r’s please share. My hasha family is most amused by my lack of r rolling ability!
Language class is 4 hours daily (M-F), then walk home for lunch, then back to the school for CYD class. It is all very interesting and there is much to learn, as we need to get to know the community and their needs and wants….This is just the tip of the iceberg…and I am writing at my site which does not have internet…so I’m putting this on my flash drive and hope to be able to hit the post office next week during our visit to Zhoumod for shots…oh yes, we get hep a, b, rabies (yes, really 3 injections) and Japanese encephalitis shots….to post this…..
I am very happy to be here and have much more to share…..