Monday, February 27, 2012

White Month is almost over....

White Month is more commonly known as Tsagaan Sar.  Since ancient times, Mongolia and other eastern and central Asian countries have followed the Lunar Calendar and the twelve year animal cycle.  The Lunar calendar was invented by Central Asian nomadic tribes.
This year is the Year of the Dragon and the prediction is that it will be a rainy year and floods may occur.  Extra rain sounds good, though I certainly don't want my garden to wash out!  I will definitely keep track of this prediction.
Soyombo and his lovely family!

Conan and Laura's first Tsagaan Sar!

traditional celebration with all the fixin's
that's Me on left
White symbolizes happiness, purity and an abundance of milk products.  If only I really liked these milk products, which are not at all like those I know and love at home.  The Tsagaan Sar celebration is to make everything new... starting a new year with a clean home, greeting elders, paying debts, making amends.  Sounds like New Year's all over again.... Oh is 

So this year I also tried my hand at making a non-traditional version of buuz, the famous holiday dumpling staple.....traditionally they are filled with mutton, but mine were teeming with veggies and soy meat...lots of garlic, carrot, onion, potato, turnip, cabbage green and red peppers all shredded and mixed together... We foreigners quite enjoyed them served with a little soy sauce sprinkled on top.
steamer on back on stove used to cook the buuz

filling dough pockets...

it's a time consuming process....

once you roll the dough, fill it, then crimp it together

my finished tasty pockets of veggies....

My friends and I ate some of the buuz at a party I hosted, though I made over 100 and still have some left in the freezer!  Unless you steam them right away, they must be frozen, then you steam them straight out of the freezer.
us girls posing with Marty's hockey stick... him and his hockey were the reason we went to the lake

but the best part was the goat turds I found!!!!
White month also included playing on a frozen "lake" and the almost 7 mile hike back from said lake one day.. There were six of us, bored and willing to spend the freezing day on an adventure...We found two cabs to drive us out there, setting us each back around $4.25.... told them we'd walk back.. I thought my legs would not make it, and fortunately for me, at the edge of town, when Conan reported we'd walked 6.6 miles, my friend Chuka and her kids saw us, waved me over and drove me home:)  Yep, I didn't care that the rest of my friends had to walk the remaining bit home....(Btw,My legs recovered nicely and weren't achey or sore later..:)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day comes to Mongolia...

having a good time!
 Here Valentine's Day is called Couples Day... I always say that you don't have to be part of a couple to celebrate!  Friends should be each other's valentine and enjoy the day!
A party at the dorm was just the thing:)
Games including a bean bag toss, tic tac toe marathon, musical chairs and guess the number of jelly beans in the glass jar added to the fun.
I love hanging out with these kids and they are all my valentines!

bean bag toss was a hit...

musical chairs

Altai with two of the musical chairs winners, they won these masks

me giving out my home made valentine's cards...

waiting in line to guess the number of jelly beans

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teachers Day

Teachers Day is celebrated here in Mongolia the first weekend in February and around the world at various times.  There is also World Teachers Day, October 5th.
Teachers are such hard working individuals and deserve recognition and fun from their daily busy, and sometimes very grueling schedule!  Some folks say this profession has it easy, (with plenty of vacations) but think of all the long hours spent outside of the classroom, lesson planning, grading, etc.!
My school invites all the employees, director, teachers, cleaners, jejurs, plumber, cooks, etc.... everyone joins in the festivities!  An awards ceremony is held, with various prizes, plaques, medals etc. being given out.  These awards are very revered here and those winning them are held in very high esteem.  
There is a lighter side to awards as well, with student voted awards for best image, funniest, most talented, best young teacher etc..  Most teachers trade their teaching duties for one day with a student and the kids have loads of fun with this assignment!
As a Community Youth Development volunteer, I am not exactly a teacher, though I do co-teach several classes weekly with English teachers.  I have an easy gig, as I work on conversational skills and pronunciation with the students; thus miss out on the lesson planning, the teaching of grammar, grading of tests, taking attendance and all the other major responsibilities that go along with being a teacher.  However, I do get referred to as Jo teacher and respected by the students.
Hats off to teachers everywhere!
Me and Happy (Oyun)

Hajidma (dorm teacher), Otgon (school director) and two of school staff

Altai (dorm teacher) with school electrician

Foreign Language Dept. of my school