Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Last week, something happened that all my teachers were talking about. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and it makes me feel so many different things.

Mongolia’s winters, as much as all of us volunteers try to make light of it, are brutal. It’s harsh. It’s dangerous. If you live here and don’t take care of yourself or use the proper precautions, you can easily find yourself in a really bad situation.

Last week, the husband of a math teacher at my school died. I didn’t get the full story, but from what my counterparts and supervisor told me, he froze to death.

From what I understand, this is not uncommon in the winter here, especially since Mongolians enjoy drinking. I’ve heard that people will drink a lot and then fall asleep outside in the snow, and they next day, they will be found dead. I don’t know if this is what happened to our teacher’s husband or not, but it’s possible.

My first reaction was sympathy for the wife. How terrible to lose a husband when you are both still a young couple.

And then I thought, if Caleb were to have died that way, I would be so mad at him for not being careful and for not preventing it.

And there’s also helplessness. Death in Mongolia this way is not an uncommon occurrence. I wish there was something I could do to prevent it in the future. But these are Mongolians we’re talking about! How can an American from warm Alabama talk about winter safety in one of the coldest inhabited climates on the earth???

And then also, wondering what it would be like in his shoes, freezing to death.

There’s also seeing how Mongolians react to this news or how they talk about it. This is a topic for another post, but from my observations of Mongolians and the subject of death, they will avoid talking about it like the plague. They will even laugh about it. I don’t really understand what their perception on death and dying is, but when I find out, I’ll write about it. It is an interesting cultural thing to observe.

For any future Mongolian PCVs, don’t let this scare you. Mongolian winters are surprisingly easy to get used to, but you just have to be smart and careful about it.

I know this isn’t the most lighthearted post on our blog, but it can’t all be good, right? There are realities here that we also need to share.

The high today was -4F. We are currently in the 4th set of 9 days of the winter. The 4th 9 is supposed to be the coldest. After about a week, we will be on our way towards spring!