Monday, February 8, 2016

Write On, Turkey

The Write On! 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners
Action shot! Writing the winners names on the certificate
A week ago on January 30th, my aimag held its first ever English creative writing competition. Write On! is an international creative writing competition established by Peace Corps. Last year in Mongolia, I believe only three aimags participated. This year, the idea was that all 21 aimags participate. I’m not sure if this goal was realized, but I know there were many more who participated than there were last year.

I am a TEFL volunteer, and I’m currently the only TEFL volunteer in my aimag center. Thus, I was elected by other Write On people to be Khentii’s Aimag Coordinator. I was a little nervous about this when I found out. I thought a PCV in their second year would be a better candidate. But I soon realized I was glad to be taking on the responsibility.

Addressing the contestants with the Foreign Language Methodologist
I worked with Khentii’s Foreign Language Methodologist at the Education Department to spread the word to the 25 schools in our aimag. We hosted the event at Caleb’s school, and I had a lot of help from Caleb’s CPs during the planning process. All my wonderful sitemates were super helpful, too!

All the judges from the event (minus Ian who took the picture)
The event took up most of the Saturday, getting kicked off at 10 and wrapping up around 3. There were 6 PCVs (the four of us in the aimag center and two soumers) who helped and judged, and 9 Mongolian English teachers also helped and judged. Students from grades 6-12 competed, and one Mongolian and one American judged each grade. There were some really creative essays in the mix. It’s amazing what the students can come up with, especially when writing in a non-native language! I couldn’t imagine writing a story in Mongolian, but these students did great! The first places from each grade will be sent to the national competition, and then the national winners will be sent to the international competition. I hope some of our students are chosen as national winners!

Overall, it was a good event. We all learned a lot of things to improve for next year, but for a first time event, it went well.
After the long competition was over, the six Americans went back to our apartment to finally cook the turkey that Peace Corps gave us for the holidays back in December. Khentii’s one Korean volunteer also joined us in the evening. It was Caleb’s first time cooking a turkey, but it turned out so great! He used the Cajun seasoning his parents sent, and it was a beautiful, tasty turkey. Caleb also had made deviled eggs the day before, and he made stuffing the day of. Kyra brought mashed potatoes, and Feebee made a lovely golden macaroni and cheese. Ian, Stephen, and Yeowon all brought various drinks, desserts, and other snacks. It was truly a feast. Later in the evening, I also baked brownies. Mmmmm!

Deviled eggs and mac-n-cheese
Rice cooker stuffing

It was a great time to talk with everyone and bask in the afterglow of the tryptophan. A little late for the American calendar, I know, but still great nonetheless.

It was a very busy weekend, but the Mongolian holiday of Tsagaan Sar is near. Caleb and I both have an entire week off from work starting yesterday, Monday February 8th. This week we will have plenty of time to relax, eat buuz, and finish our required Peace Corps triannual report…

Happy Lunar New Year, all!

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