children, cows and horses mingle . . .
Like most burgeoning journalists, my budget is tight. One afternoon, after being tipped off by some Australian friends, I went to a café called New Amsterdam for some decent coffee. It was the first non-instant coffee I’ve had since my arrival in Mongolia. Needless to say, it was a java cup of joy! But the real reasons why my Australian friends mentioned this café was the bulletin board it has near the door, advertising teaching English jobs to groups of people looking to form a tour group to the countryside.
On a whim, after a delicious mocha, a cheesecake/tart with fruits, and some conversation with my unique Holland friend, I strolled over to the board and rifled through the scraps of paper with scribbling of people’s name, number, and what they’re looking for. I found a few advertisements for someone who needed English teachers and decided to give them a call.
A few hours later, I am talking with a new business called Gateway English Training Center. The three workers of this company have quickly become my shoulder to lean on during my stay in Mongolia. They’ve helped me find a new apartment to live in, provided me with a job, and there overall kindness to me has been such a blessing! Thank you Chimga, Moogie and Nara for all your help and support! These beautiful ladies pooled together their ambition and money to start an English training center last year. During the summer, they hold summer camp sessions at a camp located 30 minutes North of UB (if there is no traffic).
So for two weeks, I’ve been teaching English to students from 10 years old to 17 years old at Khandgait Camp. The majority of whom are boys, and some have behavioral issues. However, over all, they are very good children. This has taught me several things and given me many warm memories.
1) I’ve learned I’ll never be a teacher. I enjoy children, but I am not patient enough to teach.
2) Teacher’s have to make lesson plans, and I don’t really enjoy creating lesson plans.
3) Teaching young boys is difficult when you are young and they think you are pretty.
4) I consider myself a trooper for going without a shower for a week (a went back to the city half-way through my two week stint), but I much prefer to shower everyday. Using baby wipes to clean one’s body isn’t a perfect science.
5) I love bonfires and dancing parties with Mongolian music I don’t understand.
6) I really enjoy it when I can make a shy student talk.
7) I used an outhouse for two weeks. If I can avoid them for the rest of my life, I will. (Did I mention I lost my Ray Ban glasses to them? Yes, my glasses slipped down the smelly, fly infested pit of dung.)
8. Despite my layer of dirt from a week of no showering, the 35-degree-Celsius-temperature-induced sweat made me a bug dessert. There is a creek running through the camp and the forest, not too far away. Translation, the camp is situated in the breeding ground of mosquitoes, flys and more.
9) Mongolians drink/eat a lot of dairy, which means indigestion or diarrhea for foreigners.
10) Mongolians will have hot soup on a hot day with hot milk tea. This makes no sense to me, but it does to them.
11) Most Mongolians can understand English but are too shy to talk. 12) I look like a Mongolian.
13) Outside of UB, Mongolia is very rustic. Outside my classroom are cows and horses munching on the grass that the children play soccer on. Everything in Mongolia is a mix of the old and new all at once.
14) Mongolians are very polite to one another. They teach their children to clean up and share food with one another. Mongolian children are generally better behaved than their American counterparts. Although I’m told the younger generation of Mongolians are becoming westernized too much (aka talking back too much).
15) The air in the countryside is a breath of fresh air after the dust and pollution of UB.
16) The Mongolian Morin Khurr is a very beautiful instrument.
17) Mongolians are very smart and are not given enough credit around the world. Most Mongolians try to study at a university in America (being the number one choice) or any other foreign country.
18) Mongolians will take their cars through anything, i.e. a small creek, a puddle three feet deep, etc.
19) Toddler-aged Mongolian children often go about their daily routine butt-naked.
20) Mongolians are talented artists. One of my assignments was to have my students make a drawing and then tell me a story about it. Their ten-minute sketches would have taken me hours of perfecting to create.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but even numbers are auspiciously good luck for Mongolians so I’ll end it on 20 items.