Hi Everybody! Sorry it has been a little while since our last posts. Life here in Zuunmod has been busy! We are finishing up training right now, which entails a lot. We have one week of language classes left and are scrambling to study as much as we can before our big language test next Friday, August 14. We are all trying to reach at least the “novice high” level, per PC requirements. This is attainable, but we’re all still pretty anxious to do as well as we can. In addition, we’ve been planning our host family celebration party which takes place this evening. It’s a time to eat, (maybe drink), and celebrate with our families. It’s hard to believe we’ll only be living with them for another week and a half! In addition, 8 of us (including Mark and I) have been learning and practicing a Mongolian dance to perform at our Swearing-In Ceremony on August 19. It’s pretty much the best workout possible for 2 or 2 ½ hours every night. Hopefully we can post a video of the final performance for everybody. You’ll all get a good laugh out of it - the boys will be shimmying.
In addition to all of this daily craziness, I had my first Mongolian birthday celebration yesterday! The day before I was feeling a little sad I wouldn’t get to celebrate with my friends and family back home, but everybody here did their best to make it a great Mongolian birthday and they succeeded. In the morning, I got a really cute little present from my host family. It is two little wooden figurines, a Mongolian man and woman. They pointed to them and said, “Ta (you), Mark!” I don’t know how much to read into it but it feel like it was a small sign of some cultural immersion, like by pointing to the Mongolian figurines and saying I was one of them, I’ve earned the right to be a little bit Mongolian. Regardless of some greater meaning it was super sweet of my family.
Later, Mark surprised me at the end of our language class by bringing all our students and teachers together and presenting me with a birthday cake from UB! (see video) He sneakily had our trainers purchase it for him the day before and snuck it through the window in the morning so I wouldn’t see. Then, between all the students and teachers, happy birthday was sung to me in 5 languages – English, Mongolian, Russian, Spanish, and French! And our teachers bought a bottle of sangria and a box of chocolates for me.
After classes Mark and I went back to my apartment for dinner. My host mom surprised me with a wonderful spread of food including grapes, bananas, cucumbers, tomatoes, cake, and beer! Plus the traditional main course of buuz (boats), the little Mongolian pot stickers. I also shared some treats from my recent care package with them.
After relaxing after dinner we headed to the park to watch a rock concert – yes, an actual rock concert. The band has apparently been around for 20 years or more and started as a sweet 80s hair band. The lead singer was decked out in all leather. It was nice of Zuunmod to throw a concert for my birthday.
In sum, it was a wonderful day thanks to my caring husband, friends, teachers, and host family!
The next time you hear from us we’ll know where we’ll be living for the next 2 years and who we’ll be working for! Actually, we’re pretty sure we know where we’ll be… but I was pretty sure of this one time before and it then changed, so it’s not really final until that day. We’re all excited and anxious. I’ll try to get another post up soon with that info! Best to all of you! Thanks for following our blog and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.