Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Teacher's Day (Sally)

Thursday, October 1st is national teacher’s day in Mongolia. On this day, students celebrate teachers. The students run the school the entire day. Each 12th grade student chooses one teacher to switch places with, and that student teaches that teacher’s classes all day. Teachers dress up like students and attend some special classes where they act like students.

I was told early on in the week that I should attend my student counterpart’s class that I normally teach. My CP told me this, and I got the impression that we would be attending this class as “classmates.” However, when I got to class, she wasn’t there. So I found a group of students to sit with and experienced the whole class anyways. It was interesting. The two students who were teaching the class did a good job. I was surprised to figure out that none of the teachers attend their normal classes. The student teachers go unsupervised during the entire day while the teachers sit back and relax.

"Dear Sali teacher, (7th grade Ch. Delgerjargal)
Thanks for giving me the key to my <3.
Good luck for your job. You are a wonderful teacher.
We love you. Happy world teachers day. "

There were two classes put on by students for teachers only to attend. My school had a gym class and a music class. I opted for the music class. All of my fellow “classmates” were acting like class clowns. They gave the student teacher a hard time, but she took it all in stride and continued to act like a professional teacher. (This student happened to be my student counterpart that taught my English class earlier in the day – this kid is awesome!) This class was divided into three groups, and each group had to create a song about a given topic. I wasn’t much help, since most of it was discussed in rapid Mongolian. It was interesting nonetheless.

"Dear Sally, Happy teacher's day. Thank you teacher.
Good luck. Yours sincerely, 7th grade student D. Khaliunaa"

After this class, two different young students approached me and gave me a handmade card for teacher’s appreciation day. These were both representatives of the two 7th grade classes, whom I don’t teach or see much of at all. I was quite touched.

Apparently, this day is also Old People’s day in Mongolia. I don’t know if it always falls on the same day as teacher appreciation day or not. I was asked to perform a song on my uke, and I was able to get Caleb to agree to play with me on his tin whistle (to get out of singing). We played the go-to Mongolian song for PCVs and everyone liked it, even though we screwed it up a bit. Today, (Tuesday) my counterpart gave Caleb and I gifts from the main organizer of this event: a key chain key pouch for Caleb and a shopping bag for me, both made in Mongolia with Mongolian leather.

My bag (top) and Caleb's key pouch (bottom)
After the Old People’s Day celebration, Caleb and I parted ways to go to our schools’ parties. Mine started at around 8, even though, of course, I arrived at the given time, 7. The teachers all prepared gifts for their student counterparts, which was a framed picture of the 7 wonders of Khentii (our aimag), a bar of chocolate, and a button pin with our student’s picture and name.

My shopping bag, expanded

The party was in the gym. After entering the gym through two lines of students clapping enthusiastically and saying “Happy Teacher’s Day!” again and again, the teacher’s sat down and the party began. The students made speeches and led games and dances. Near the end, the students and teachers exchanged gifts. The students gave the teachers a mug. It was pretty fun altogether, and I am proud to say that I stayed for the entire event! I was home by 9:30.

My mug: "Mongolian teachers' 49th year. Congratulations."
Saturday was when the city celebrated teacher’s day. As Caleb mentioned, we went to the theater in the city center. We sat through 4 hours of speeches, award giving, and cultural performances. During this performance, my CP sent me a text telling me that all my teacher’s had paid for my party fee. Caleb and I weren’t originally going to go because it was a bit pricey for both of us to pay, but after that, we couldn’t say no.

My party was scheduled to begin at 4, and surprisingly, it actually started around 4. I was so glad to have food there, and the food was really good. Grilled chicken with pineapple! Mmmmm. I stayed at the party for about 4 hours, and managed only 2 shots of vodka and about a quarter can of beer. When no one was watching, I would pour water into my vodka glass! HaHA!!!

My student counterpart for the day
 The party was food, drinking, dancing, singing, and some more award giving. I was given a certificate because I am a new teacher. I had fun dancing with people too, although the one teacher that asked me to Mongolian waltz with him probably regretted it. I was constantly stepping on his feet. This is weird, because I have danced the Mongolian waltz plenty of times pretty decently. Oh well.

My certificate for being a new teacher
At around 8pm, Caleb was waiting outside for me. We walked to Kyra’s, another PCV, party so we could walk home together. Safety in numbers!!! We heard that the parties went until 4am, and some teachers had more partying on Sunday. Many teachers were hungover at school Monday.

This whole holiday has been quite interesting. I’m glad I was able to participate, but I’m also glad it’s over. Hopefully, we can start focusing more on the students and school work. The next party, I’m told, isn’t until the new year.

I know this post may be a bit repetitive after Caleb’s, but two perspectives can be nice sometimes. Plus, I’ve got cool pictures of things. J


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