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Monday, September 27, 2010

this roller coaster called Peace Corps.....

..or should I say, this Peace Corps Mongolia experience I am having certainly is like a roller coaster ride! PC talked about the ups and downs and how natural and expected it is to have extreme emotional highs and lows during service. Never let it be said that we weren't warned; because we sure were. Many times...

The ups and downs of service can be interesting, challenging, disconcerting, scary, strange and oddly fulfilling. Sometimes, all at the same time!
One minute I am slowly, excruciatingly, painfully slowly, climbing the huge hill, gripping the handrail till the circulation in my fingers cease; terror gripping my chest, counting slowly to myself, and chanting, breathe, breathe, breathe... And the next thing I know we have reached the top and now I am screaming (with a combination of joy,fear, thrill, exhilaration) waving my hands madly in the air as we plummet down...way too fast. Thrilled and frightened simultaneously ...what a rush!
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The ups and downs that I have been experiencing as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia are similar to a roller coaster adventure. I don't know about you, but I really like roller coasters. Ok, I used to love them when I was younger, but now "really like" covers it.

In fact the most recent time I enjoyed riding a roller coast was the summer of 2009 with Courtney (my lovely surrogate daughter :))and her bridal party. We spent the day at Cedar Point (amusement park famous for coasters and the best in our area) for the bridal/ bachelorette party.

Being the "old lady" of the group, I was not quite as enthusiastic as the girls about riding, say, the top fuel dragster, which goes straight up in the air (many many stories high I might add), only to plummet straight down, all at unbelievably high rates of speed... hence the name.

However, I did ride many of the other slightly more tame coaster with the girls... the mantis, maverick and what was that first one we went on where I thought I was going to have some anxiety attack before we even climbed the first hill... but I didn't... in fact, it was (dare I say it?) fun!

After we got off the ride, I felt pretty damn good...I told Courtney, we did it, and commented that Vicki (my lovely daughter) was always too afraid to ride coasters and we did it for her, and that she was with us too. We had a tearful moment, then the festivities continued as they should.

Peace Corps Mongolia is kinda like that ride, and every time I feel anxious, discouraged, lonely, unsure and missing Vicki I remind myself to breathe, breathe, breathe, and that my lovely daughter is right here with me, always in my heart.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

congratulations on starting a new school year....







a very talented group of students performing some traditional mongolian dances... made me want to learn...oh, I forgot, I already tried it (and am not good..)


















the students enjoyed the show almost as much as I did!






these two danced and sang...













oops, I'm always getting my photos ou of order....some of the performers, all children, two girls who sang and did a dance... part of an amazing group of little kids who danced!






















..as they say here in Mongolia...the first day of the new school year is a very big deal...September 1st and the festivities start at 8 am, and continue for a couple hours then classes begin. Here are a couple photos of some of the pre festivities, above are some of the local dignitaries who came, and left some boys helping to hoist balloons out the window to decorate the front of the school.

Originally I was told by my school director that I would give a speech....so I nervously was going to greet them in Mongolian, then speak English with a translator. Lucky for me, there was a mix up and the emcee's of the event did not have me listed, so I did not speak. Of course, in retrospect, I might have liked introducing myself and extolling the virtues of having social workers in the school and how we can help the students and teachers.
Now that school has been in session a couple weeks, Wednesday evening are the opening ceremony festivities for the dorm students that I've been invited to. These students are from the countryside and usually are at our school because their area does not have a school to their grade level, or they may have some difficulties at home. I will be working with the dorm students a lot and am excited at the prospect!






















Wednesday, September 1, 2010

photos, supplement to last post....







far left: my school director, me and two of my teacher counterparts in front of the sacred tree.
center: sacred tree, covered with hallaks
right: ohwah, sacred place
each of these places are related to buddhist beliefs, you circle 3 times clockwise, at the ohwah, you throw a rock on the pile with each circle stating your wish. At the tree on the third round you whisper your wish into the tree. They brought me here my second day in town.
Here are my welcoming gifts, delicious chocolate and very sweet wine. I was given wine to drink while my guests drank tea I made. When I was finished with my glass of wine, they each had a small drink and we toasted to my new home and my work at the 12 year secondary school, #1. Cheers!



My wonderful CYD friends, Sheraya, Nate, me, Justin, Little B, Pedro and Crystal, on the morning of our Peace Corps Swearing in!! We are no longer trainees, we are volunteers!!!