Thursday, June 11, 2015

Let the Real Training Begin! 06/10/15

These past few days have been a blur of trainings. On Monday, we started our training. I being a Community Youth Volunteer am receiving my pre-service training (PST) with the other CYDs. We begin our week days with language training from 9AM-1PM. This is followed by a nice lunch break and then technical sessions 2:30-5:30PM. After school, we return to our host families and work on integrating and spending time with them.

Sally had an idea of what this language immersion would be like through her trip to Germany, but for me it is a new experience. One reaches a point, remarkably early in the day, where you feel as if you have absorbed all the language you can. As you progress past that point, your brain begins to feel like it might explode and an almost physical pain is present as you apply yourself. I have noticed that some of my fellow volunteers are frustrated with themselves, and I have tried to explain to them that there really is a limit to how much the brain can take in and retain in one day. The best thing we can do is allow ourselves at least 8 hours of sleep every night to recharge. I take some degree of comfort in knowing that I already know a lot more than I did on Saturday.

My host family has continued to be a huge help and in general have been fun to be around. On Sunday, we went to the market, a maze of vendors and various shops, and bought a basketball and soccer ball. I had two language miscommunication with my host family. I thought that we would be leaving for the market at 3:00PM, 4 hours from when we discussed it, but actually we were leaving in 3 minutes. I also was under the impression that we would be going to use the internet immediately after the market, so I shoved my computer and camera into my bag and carried it through the market that is known to have some theft problems. It turns out we were returning to the Gers before we went to use the internet. These miscommunication have been common, and, as a foreigner, I have already grown accustom to not always knowing what is happening. I am, nonetheless, in the hands of my capable host family, who seem to know my schedule better than I do.

After the Market and the internet usage where I posted the previous blogs, my host brother and I played some basketball and variations on soccer. It was refreshing to sweat, run, and exercise for the first real time since we started this adventure two weeks ago.  We returned to the Gers, where I convinced him to take me to the top of the hill that our house is located on. It was a short climb, but the view was spectacular. We could see all of Enerel and Darkhan laid out in a relatively small area of the enormous landscape that is Mongolia. In the distance mountains loomed without any visible sign of habitation. This country is truly amazing in its open land and vistas.

Downtown Darkhan

Enerel on the other side of hill

Once we returned to the Gers, I took my first bath using a Tumpun. A small circular tub about 2 feet in diameter and 8 inches deep. My first experience was a learning curve that soaked my Ger, but I have since figured out how to be more economical and careful with the water. Usually the Mongolians warm up the water, but I am enjoying the summer, so I have been using cold water.

I have also reached a good agreement with my food intake with my host mother. She cooks amazingly, but is always giving me too much food. Yesterday, she weighed me in her office (I think she is the school Doctor) and quickly calculated my BMI. I was unable to understand her, but I know she thought it was too high. “Then we are in agreement,” I remarked and wrote down a number next to it that I would like to be. Since then, I have felt more comfortable turning down large portions or leaving some food on my plate.

I have also been using the squat toilet regularly. It remains remarkably easy, although yesterday I lost my first roll of toilet paper to the land below. I expect that this will not be the last roll I lose…


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