Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Second Soum Trip

by Mark

It has been nearly a week and a half since I returned from my second soum trip. I figure it's time to post some photos and give everyone a bit of information about this particular adventure. The reason for going on this quick 4 day trek thru the southern soums of Arkhangai was two-fold.
First, we were doing "monitoring visits" of families/businesses that have used Mercy Corps' loan facilitation programs. The monitoring is supposed to happen quarterly, and these visits usually only last about an hour...unless of course you happen upon meal time and are asked to stay for 2-3 hours...or you meet up with a soum governor who wants to hang out and show you all over town.
Each soum had a couple of places we needed to visit, so we'd usually spend about half a day in each soum center. But because our mission was two-fold, while we were stopping off at these families homes we would also swing by the local government building attempting to have an impromptu meeting with the governor.
The second reason for our travels was to inform each and every soum of our "Young Businessperson's Training" we would be offering in Tsetserleg. This is a training that lasts a total of 14 days - 7 days in early November, and 7 days in early December. It's an all expense paid training for young business owners who are showing promise in their soum. Mercy Corps pays their costs to come to Tsetserleg, stay for the week, eat while here, and get back home afterward. The benefit monetarily for Mercy Corps comes in the future when these young business people take advantage of our program to assist them in business plan writing for a small fee. But for now they will be receiving hour after hour of valuable business related information that they can take home and apply to their respective enterprises.
I'm sure I will have more information about this Young Businessperson's Training in the near future, as I am slated to give a presentation this coming Saturday at the event. But for now, please enjoy the pictures from my travels...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last Week's Highlights

by Kara

The other day Mark and I were talking about updating this blog more often, but not with frequent long posts, but with some regular, shorter updates about life here. Personally, I like reading interesting bulleted lists more than lengthy compositions anyway. So as a short update, here are some personal highlights from this last week:

  • We got some more snow this week, leaving Tsetserleg covered in a beautiful blanket of snow.
  • After a lot of procrastination, I finally set up weekly Mongolian language lessons! I begin tomorrow!
  • I met a woman named Goldfish. Yep, Goldfish! Obviously I don't refer to her as Goldfish in English (yet); in Mongolian her name is pronounced Altanzagac. I am going to start teaching her English next week.
  • We had our sitemates over for a fun, relaxing dinner on Saturday and shared good food and conversation with them.
  • I bought Mongolian boots!!!
  • I made more yummy rice cooker cake. 
  • I got to visit families with my coworker. We visited families who have adopted children. We went to make sure everything looks okay and ask them some questions. It was great to be involved in this work, spend some time with my coworker, and meet the families.

Snowy Tsetserleg

This is when we took a mini-hike in the snow.

My new Mongolian boots!

That's my coworker Amar. We were wandering around these hills looking for the families' houses in the snow (which is not an easy task in when addresses are far and few between). It was this experience that motivated me to buy my new warm boots.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Work Photos

I posted some photos of where I work and who I work with on facebook. Check them out! (You don't have to have a facebook account to view these photos)


Tuesday, October 6, 2009