May 31, 2015
We landed in Mongolia yesterday at around midnight and I didn’t get to sleep until 3AM. So officially, I have spent my first day in Mongolia.
We keep asking ourselves and one another, “Has it hit you yet?” but most of us are still in a daze. I thought that moment for me would be as the plane descended into Mongolia but when the time actually came, we’d been traveling close to 30 hours; I was too motion sick, exhausted, jet-lagged, hungry and cold to register that I had arrived.
However, my first impressions: The night air is so cool and odorless. It smells so fresh. And it is quiet. So quiet. UB airport is small, but still it’s startling to hear nothing outside its doors. No highway noise, echoes or cars honking. As we waited for the other volunteers to come out from baggage claim, I stood there watching Mongolian travelers come out with their families. I am utterly fascinated by them, the way they look, dress and talk. The Mongolian language is actually quite beautiful. I can’t wait to start learning.
This was my first journal entry the day after we landed in Mongolia. Currently, the new group of trainees (M27s) are in Seattle right now going through Staging and I’m wrapping up my Training of Trainers (TOT) seminar. It has been two long weeks of preparing PST lessons and tomorrow, I’m moving to my PST site with my fellow colleagues: two Language and Culture Facilitators who will teach the Mongolian and one Technical Coordinator who will be my counterpart for the TEFL tech sessions. I’ll be living in a small soum in Selenge aimag (about a 13 hour journey away from my permanent site) for the next five weeks helping the new trainees get through PST. In early July, another volunteer will come take my place as the 2nd Half Resource PCV.
Going through TOT has brought back so many memories of PST and has reminded me how tough it is to get through. We discussed how to help the trainees deal with host family challenges, workload stresses, cross-cultural misunderstandings … I mean, I’m really excited for the new group to arrive, but I’m also prepared to help manage what will undoubtedly become a summer of fires, figuratively speaking. When PST ended last year, I was very glad and relieved but I also acknowledged that it would most likely be the most memorable part of my service and so far, that has been true. There is nothing like PST and whether you loved it or hated it, the memories are going to stick with you forever.
Anyways, as a special one year anniversary special, I’ve put together this video montage of my life in Mongolia. My site mate did this last year on her one year so I’ve been collecting videos all year long in anticipation of this post! True to the culture, there are a lot of clips of song and dance, but also just regular moments of my life and work. Enjoy!
Featured image (above) taken by Ian Armstrong.