Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Close of Service

The end is near. Really it is less than three months away.  Sally and I have spent 23 months in Mongolia. We have seen two entire cycles around the sun. We are familiar with the weather, the seasons, and the culture of this place that has been our home for so long.
Sally and I both got a haircut at COS

Last week Sally and I traveled to UB to attend our last Peace Corps seminar. It was the last time that our cohort will be in one place together. Many of our friends who we met in May two years ago we will not see in this country again. When we left for Mongolia so long ago there were 74 of us. Now for a wide variety of reason there are only 54. 

Coming to Mongolia felt like closing a book on a chapter of our lives. As our service comes to an end it is clear that yet another chapter is coming to a close. Our time in Mongolia has gone by slowly and quickly. It has been a time of trial and ease. A literal constant state of adjustment.

Our Close of Service (COS) seminar took place at a nice resort a short ways from UB. During the seminar we were briefed on a lot of the logistics of our upcoming departure as well as a number of sessions devoted to how to integrate successfully into American society with cryptic titles like “Resume Building, Elevator Pitches, etc.”  COS was also where we were informed of our departure date from Mongolia. Our cohort is leaving the country in three groups during the summer. Sally and I will be departing from Mongolia in July making our total time in country around 26 months. For Security reasons, I will not post the exact date, but close friends and family are welcome to message me. 
Pictures of the countryside around the resort. This stream still has ice.

Sally, Kyra, and Feebee

The mountains looked like Mordor

COS was a time of great food, a chance to renew relationships, make promises about the states, but most of all a celebration of our collective cohort’s success and growth.  At the end of the seminar, we received a certificate from our Country Director and took a picture before the joint flags of Mongolia, America, and Peace Corps.

Our last picture with our entire cohort of volunteers, "The COSing 54"

On Saturday, we departed from UB on a now familiar bus to our city. Spring has arrived in torrents of sand and wind; slowly the rolling hills of Khentii are turning green yet again.  We stopped at the half way point in the small village of Tsenkhermandal. With nearly two years of traveling the same stretch of road from the capital to our provincial center, we’ve had the chance to watch some of the shops flourish and die. A mini-mart that was a personal favorite in this halfway point didn’t last through the winter.
Pics with friends, our Khentii group won a prize at an evening event.
Even though this is the beginning of the end, there is still a lot to look forward to in the future. Sally
and I are in the process of planning a short summer trip to the Gobi desert, an area of Mongolia we have yet to see. We are also planning a longer trip when we leave the country. This trip will take us through a number of countries in central/eastern Europe.  From Europe we will fly back to our home in Birmingham, thus circumnavigation the globe in 26 months! Look for more information on both of these trips soon!

Workwise, we are in the process of finishing some of the classes and clubs we teach and are preparing for the summer which is usually much less busy than the school year for volunteers who work at schools.  I am currently working with my teachers to plan for an English Summer camp at my school.

But mostly at this point with just three months to go, we are excited to return to America. It has been a long separation from our homeland and family.


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