week ago Sunday I spent the entire afternoon at the cinema. No, not watching movies; it's what the "old theater" is referred to. I was watching the kids from the 5 local secondary schools Eco clubs compete. The two weeks prior was an active time for the Eco clubs, with the presentation competition at my school, then a big club competition at the local Aimag Children's Center.
The Sunday event was specifically for the Ecology/Green clubs, and included skits about taking care of mother earth, talent competitions,and a knowledge quiz portion etc. I really admire the stamina of the students, patiently waiting their turn for each event. My own patience has expanded by leaps and bounds in the past 11 months here; as well as my ability to sit in hard chairs for hours at a time. Though I couldn't understand the language, I could mostly follow along and the students from my school were very creative in their presentations. They won first place, with a big trophy; it was very exciting!
During the week I had my usual weekly activities, two English classes at the dorm, an Eco club meeting ( where we made compost bins from wire, which I actually got the school to pay for, though I ended up having to purchase my own shovel), Life Skills club, movie night, and arts and crafts time and assisting with English class on Saturday afternoon at the local monastery.
Thursday after English I was astounded to see a volleyball net erected, as well as a banner, balloons and real nets on the basketball hoops! I knew something was going on and suspected an important visitor was coming. However, turns out the 11th graders (what we would call high school seniors) were having a sporting competition that afternoon. Fortunately I took some photos because the nets, banner etc were all down the next day. I made many new little friends from the school that afternoon, as they all clambered for me to take their photos!
Friday evening at the dorm I had a karaoke competition for the students. They were so cute, and it was mostly younger kids, as many of the older students were busy, with 5th, 9th and 11th grade graduation celebrations planned for all the next day. I need to get over feeling that an event is not successful if it's not well attended. The idea is to give special attention to the dorm students and if nothing else, they certainly get that from me, and I in turn get so much back from them.
I don't really understand the grade system here, though I believe that there are separate Kindergarten schools, then grades 1-5 are all considered elementary. Oddly enough, there is no such thing as 6th grade, so 7, 8, 9 are what we would call middle school or junior high, and 10 and 11 are high school.
Graduation from 5th grade means you are advancing to middle school and from 9th to high school, then from 11th you are on your way to university! I did not attend any of the celebrations though I have been invited to go on a class trip with my friend and counterpart Oyun's 10th grade class early in June.
Saturday evening some friends and I had soup at my house then hung out at the town square (very close to my apartment) for an open air concert; sort of like a Mongolian Idol type of competition. It was a little chilly for being out too long but rather fun for the hour or so we lasted! We ran into several Mongolian friends, and some of my dorm students as well!
Yesterday (Sunday) the weather was beautiful; sunny, rather mild and not too windy. I ventured out hiking around town attempting to collect manure for gardening. My hour and a half was enjoyable, though only garnered a bag of dried manure. It was enough however for the two big blue urns out in front of my school that the director ok'd my planting salad fixins in!
I went by the dorm and found two willing young boys as helpers as well as a young girl. The boys graciously hauled my two big plastic bins full of mostly composted veggie scraps that have been sealed up in my kitchen. Booya carried the heaviest one as well as dug holes in the "soon to be new vegetable garden" patch in front of the dorm. He then buried the stinky compost, along with some sawdust in the holes for me! What an enourmous help he was! Nyearma, my quiet little friend, hung out with me and helped me dig the manure into the planters as well as some sawdust and potting soil we went to the market to buy. After preparing and water the planters she helped me plant the seeds then water again.
Nyearma and I enjoyed some ice cream after and I am very interested to see her reaction as the salad garden grows! Now if only I can get her and some of the other children to want to try lettuce, spinach and radishes! We did plant carrots and that is one of the most commonly grown and used veggies here, so that's a start!