Though it's hard for Mark and I to believe, the end of our 2 years of service is coming to an end soon! We received official approval from our Peace Corps Mongolia Country Director to conclude our service and fly home July 24!!!
However, before that day comes, we still have a lot to do. Mark is busy finishing up projects at work, including the final reports for his unique business and unique product competition, training his counterparts on how to maintain the Travel Arkhangai website, and a couple more tourism trainings for local businesses.
I'm heading off to the city of Darkhan next week to take part in a two-week training of trainers. I've been asked to help train the incoming group of Community Youth Development volunteers. This is what Mark did last year after we returned from vacation. I'll be gone about 5 weeks total, spending 2 weeks preparing the trainings and 2 1/2 weeks actually doing the training. Although this means time apart from Mark (and our cat Mishka!) I'm looking forward to a change of pace and a change of scenery. Things at my work have slowed down a lot for me lately and I'm not very busy. If you know me, you know I like to be busy. Plus, it'll be fun to see a fresh group of people newly embarking upon their experience here in Mongolia. Mark is planning to try and come visit me in Darkhan sometime in the middle of my training too, hopefully around the time of our anniversary.
After I return from training I'll spend some time at my organization's summer camp. Then we'll celebrate Naadam (horse racing, archery, and wrestling summer festival) here in Arkhangai, hand out some more helmets to child jockeys, and after, pack up our apartment! We'll head into UB a few days before our official Close of Service date to do gobs of paperwork and medical check-ups.
It's going to be a little odd and possibly anti-climatic because PCVs from our group are departing at different dates throughout the summer, so there's not exactly one big good-bye party. In fact, we've already realized we've seen some people for the last time in Mongolia and didn't even do a proper goodbye. We've already started trying to convince people to come visit us in Seattle and hope to visit others in the future too. In fact, some PCVs are already planning a two-year reunion in New Orleans where at least 4-5 PCVs from our group are planning to live -- a few of them planning to live together even!
To make our return home a little sweeter we've also planned a short vacation in San Francisco on our way home! We're visiting one of my best friends and her husband there. And I've never been to San Francisco so while they're busy working during the days, we're going to explore the city. Then, I'll be home in time to spend my birthday at home with our friends and families!
I'm not sure what kinds of photos to include on a blog like this, but a blog post is boring without any, so here are some from events as of late.
|Ondor-ulaan soum, about 2-3 hours away from where we live. Mark visited it last week with the national Mercy Corps director.|
|Bulgan Mountain. This image is used on everything and seen everywhere throughout our town so it's a bit tired to us, but I have to admit, it is pretty. It's a very short walk away from our apartment.|
|And then there's the occasional dumpings of spring snow. Ugh. This was last week.|