Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghouls, Ghosts and Ghastly Goblins....eeeeeeekkkkkkk

Wow, Halloween is upon us again....This year I planned a festive party for the dorm student and it was a rousing success!  The kids made some masks, and many went way beyond the simple mask by painting their faces.....Me saying how awesome they were only goes so far... judge for yourself!
this mask was drawn on felt

the ghouliest girls....from room 204


Happy Halloween

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen!!!

This year at the dormitory, I wanted to continue having students learning to cook.  To enjoy the experience of preparing food that is tasty can foster a sense of accomplishment and it can be fun!
Since World Vision is sponsoring clubs at the dorm this year, I don't have to worry about how we (or I) can afford supplies!  Initially, the number of members for the Cooks Club was to be limited to 22 students.  However, this was the club that the largest number of students were interested in and we have 42 members!  Fortunately, not all of them turned up for our first session, as we couldn't have fit them all in the school kitchen where the ovens are!
The first cooking session was baking bread.... fresh, crusty on the outside, warm and soft on the inside, home made bread...mmmmmmm...
enjoying the fruits of their labors!!
fresh tasty bread with jam.....yummy

look what we made!!!!!

ooooooh, wow.....:)

shaping the loaves was very fun!

each team took their turn with their batch of dough

it's a good thing all 42 cooks club members didn't show up today!!!there wasn't enough room

how is this?

ooooh, look at my dough!

the oven was on with the doors open to heat the room....

yeast is slow to rise....

students worked in teams/groups

it was fun and rewarding for all the kids!
  I can't wait for the next meeting...!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Alcohol Awareness Week

Alcohol Awareness Week is a PC idea to bring to light the issue of abuse and addiction to the most commonly used drug here.  Yes, alcohol is a drug, and so widely socially accepted here (as in most societies) though the current rate of alcoholism here is around 22%. (with a total population over around 2.2 million people)  Pretty high indeed; that's almost 1 in 4 Mongolians who are alcohol dependent. Things must change for coming generations!

1st Secondary School students at opening ceremony

students made signs and posters

Historically, alcohol is a socially accepted part of most celebrations and very deeply ingrained into Mongolian culture.  It used to be that all nomadic Mongolians made all their own alcohol; airig (fermented mare's milk with a fairly low alcohol content is still all locally produced), vodka made from cow's milk, also called traditional vodka.  This tastes similar to regular bottled distilled vodka, but with a lower alcohol content.  The alcohol now consumed is usually purchased at the store with a most popular brand called "Chinggis" and has around 40% alcohol content.

Our local week was October 3-10th and had all 5 secondary schools in Arvikheer competing in categories such as school participation, an essay contest and a poster contest.  The theme for the week was "peer pressure and drinking responsibly", and targeted students in grades 10 and 11.  

Some ethnic groups are known to have higher alcoholism rates, such as Native Americans and Mongolians.  Looking at the cultures, facial features, ceremonies, etc. the two groups appear to be quite similar.  Change begins with the younger generation and it starts here and now.
students at 1st school hanging up posters

10 a class with their posters!

Second Secondary School of Arvikheer won the big prize of the competition, for best participation!  An awesome trophy and plaque!  A great start:)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Integration into the Community

Integrating into the community is an integral part of a successful PC experience.  Building personal relationships is a big part of this integration process.  I have many counterparts here at First Secondary School of Arvikheer that I consider friends, and really helps my ability to be a successful volunteer!

My first year here I was a little reserved and shy (hard to believe I know especially for those who know me well:)), not attending the teacher camp out weekend prior to the start of the school year and other events.  However, I always enjoyed the parties and celebrations, though felt most comfortable with the students at the dorm!

This year I am expanding my horizons and getting out of my comfort zone more by becoming more of a team player as part of the teacher/social worker/school employee group.  The camping trip in early September was great fun and helped the foreign language teachers and I get to know each other a little better!  These women are not only my counterparts, I consider most of them my friends as well, which is the Mongolian way.  Co-workers are your friends and your social network here! 

No wonder, since school personnel spend so much time together!  Case in point.... the city wide Teacher/Staff Competition between all 5 secondary schools here in Arvikheer.  This event was held yesterday, and my school won first place!  Though events often seem very last minute and thrown together to me, they come together quite nicely.  All staff and teachers (myself included and only a few were missing) assembled in the school gym at 5 pm Friday.  There we practiced our opening number (which I wish I had been able to film instead of participate in because it was great!!!) for hours.... I also wanted to be on the "darts team", so we practiced.  We had one dart, a dart board and over a dozen people..... not the most useful practice....Oh no, I thought, this is ridiculous....

Close to 8 pm, I said I needed to go because I was meeting my site mates whom I had not seen nor talked to much all week.  Later I found out that the practice continued till 10 pm, by which time I was heading home.

Saturday started late as usual.  We were to meet at 8:30 a.m, which turned out to be more like 9:45, where all school teams assembled on the town square, a few words were said by some local government folks then we marched through town with a police escort, each school group with a member holding the school flag out front.  We proceeded to the outskirts of town where we had cars, meekers and buses (each department had to arrange their car) with numbers on their windshields and we lined up and proceeded (again with a police escort) to the outskirts of town, near the river, in an open field area for the games.

Each school set up their own area, marking it with the rocks all of us picked up and made our square with.  My school had two lovely tents, one where we put our stuff, some folks had to change clothes, and the other was our "hospitality" tent, where we drank airag frequently.  I must say that particular airag was the best I've tasted in Mongolia, not too sour or fermented tasting.

The first competition event was the performance and everyone in school took part, with four different musical numbers (including a surprise performance rap by a young teacher and a history teacher who had debuted their rap at practice.... and it was the winning piece I believe!), and a twist and shout type song where the dart team was featured ...I really felt a part of the school and the team!  I even felt badly that I did not score in darts (one throw and I had scored consistently during practice that day...) Oh my, I felt competitive!!!
First Secondary School marching!

 After our big win, the celebration continued at school, where we toasted (with vodka), enjoyed the food we won, apples, candy, pizzas, cake, etc... and danced!  I was in the early group going home around 8:30.... exhausted from the cold windy day out doors and my legs were tired from so much standing. However, I do feel fully integrated:)

tug of war was so awesome, I wished I was on the team!!!

the Amazing Dart team!  some of us are even smiling:)
though it's usually "all serious" in official looking photos.....the lighter side

gymnastics competition, which is more like "dance/aerobics" routine
the celebration continued in our big room at school!

We're Number ONE!!!!
Director in center with Foreign Language Dept. (some of them..and me:)