Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Close of Service Conference

by Kara

Every year Peace Corps holds a Close of Service Conference for all of the volunteers finishing up their second year of service. Our conference was April 27-29. Out of the original 69 volunteers who came to Mongolia we had 48 in attendance at the conference. If you're wondering, that's not too bad of a rate. I've heard that overall, Mongolia has a better retention rate than other PC countries, despite what you might think. Maybe we come to Mongolia with lower expectations than those PCVs who end up Fiji and think life is going to be a beautiful paradise everyday. (As I write this, it is May 10 and there's a huge snow storm occurring outside.)

Anyway, the conference was a time for us to spend time with our fellow PCVs, reflect upon our experiences together, and talk about post-Peace Corps life. There were some boring sessions and some interesting ones and fun activities in the evenings. It was great to get to spend a few solid days with all the PCVs. And it was interesting to see who has changed a lot, stayed exactly the same, or just changed somewhat (in most cases, for the better).

Hear are some highlights!

Day 1: The ger camp we stayed at.
It was warm and sunny and beautiful.

And less than 48 hours later we woke up to 6 inches of snow and freezing cold weather.
It continued to snow the entire day and the guys even had to get out of our bus on our way out of the camp to help push it. Typical spring weather in Mongolia.

One of our evening activities was a cooking contest. I was smart and joined a team with amazing cooks  - that's us! We made fish tacos, beef tacos, (I made a million tortillas), two kinds of salsa, a peanut noodle dish (we had to make a Mongolian dish with at twist) and bananas dipped in chocolate and coconut for dessert. It was delicious and all made completely from scratch!
Ashlee and I

Chaos in the kitchen.

WE WON!!! The judges joined us for this photo-op.

The three married men playing Monopoly deal
All the PCVs! Mark and I are in the back and you can't actually see my face in the photo...

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