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:)

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