Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Last Weeks of June

(Before I begin, I would like to apologize for the delay in post recently. Sally and I have discovered that the summer has actually been quite busy for us. Right now we are about a month behind on post, but hopefully we will get mostly caught up soon.)

After Linda left, June seemed to fly by in a blink of an eye. Sally and I ended up spending a few more days in UB to take care of our annual physical with PC. We then returned to the quiet of Chinggis.
One of my projects for the summer is the Kherlen River Camp. This project involves a number of volunteers working at a local summer camp. Our objective would be to teach English and have fun with the kids. I had enlisted a many of our fellow Khentii PCVs to help with the two sessions that we would be working. On the 16th of June we congregated in the aimag center to plan for the camp that would occur in the first few weeks of July.

The next week was rather slow for Sally and I. Our schools were no longer in session, so there was not too much work happening for us. The entire country was preparing for the parliamentary elections, so nothing else was happening outside of our schools for everyone else. We enjoyed a much needed staycation with movies, games, and the complete Penny Dreadful television series.
Elections in Mongolia are a big deal. Mongolia is a democracy with around 20 different parties; only 4-5 of these are big enough to count. Many jobs (pretty much all of the directors of schools and government organizations) are tied to election cycles. This means that a change in party could result in a lot of people losing their jobs. In the past, elections have sometimes resulted in violence in Ulaanbaatar. Naturally this is something PC wants to avoid, so the week surrounding the elections was a “stand fast” period for all volunteers in Mongolia. This meant that we were not allowed to travel away from site, and were advised to just chill at home. PCVs also have to be careful about not expressing any political opinions and cannot attend political rallies, speeches, or parties.

It is interesting to be on the outside of an election that you cannot participate in. For Sally and I, the election went by uneventfully with only large posters of amiable Mongolians and an influx of new people wandering the streets of our town to mark its passing. Sometimes political canvassers would knock on our door, but quickly retreat when they realized we were not Mongolian. One morning we were awakened by the sounds of a loud speaker. When we opened our blinds we saw that there was a political rally occurring right outside our bedroom window for the people of our complex. The election cycle resulted in a peaceful change for partisan control for Mongolia.

On the 1st of July, we met with our site mates for a barbeque early 4th of July celebration. I cooked shish kabobs over an open flame using Kyra’s ger stove. In the winter this stove is vital for providing warmth, but seems to function great as a barbeque in the summer. It was a lot of fun to do American food with Americans on an American holiday.
Me cooking on a ger stove. All of the photo credit for this post goes to Kyra.  
Some modifications were needed. We used tiles to make the opening smaller, and wood blocks to keep the chimney in place in in the wind. 

The final meal included chicken skewers, baked beans, cucumber salad, chips, and other festive odds and ends. 
As the June came to an end, Sally, Kyra, and I prepared to go to the first session of the Kherlen River Camp. Stay tuned for our adventures there!


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