Sunday, June 19, 2011

Life lately

by Kara

A spastic update on life lately...

We've got a little more than a month left in Mongolia - that's it! It's crazy. I haven't fully mentally prepared myself for returning to the US. I've been so busy lately helping train the new group of volunteers that just arrived that I haven't had much time to sit down and think about all my own stuff.

Training the new volunteers has been fun (and tiring). It's fun to see all their enthusiasm and excitement. Until talking to them I had completely forgotten what it was like to arrive in Mongolia for the first time. It makes me realize how comfortable I've become with many aspects of life here and how normal so many things seem. It's hard trying to balance giving them an optimistic, yet realistic view of what their Peace Corps service might be like, but I'm trying. The worse part about training is that we spend 4 to 5 hours a day commuting from our office to the site their training is at. One day last week we had a tire blowout which extended our time on the road even longer. Not fun. BUT I do get to drive past herds of camels everyday, which still doesn't fail to excite me.

Though most of my mental effort is focused on training, I am thinking about life in the US a bit. I register for classes next week (!) and I'm job-searching. I'm hoping to find a part-time research assistant position at the university. These positions include a paycheck PLUS complete tuition coverage. Obviously that would be awesome and would ensure I wouldn't have to take out any student loans, but of course, these positions are highly coveted. I got really excited about one position that I applied for last week and just got an email from those in charge of hiring asking us applicants to be patient, as they received over 100 applications. Yikes. 100. Those are some tough odds.

Anyway, that's all I've got for this quick update for now. I don't even have any pictures to upload because I'm at an internet cafe and don't have access to my photos right now. Sorry! I'll be finishing up my portion of training next week then heading back home to Arkhangai for the remainder of our time in Mongolia. While in Arkhangai I'll be helping with a 4H exchange program that's bringing some American teenagers to Arkhangai to live with host families. We'll probably take them to my work's summer camp. We've also got Naadam (horse-racing, archery, wrestling) and then of course saying goodbye to everybody, packing up our stuff, giving away lots of stuff, etc. Crazy! Time is flying!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Health Fair

by Kara

Saturday, May 21, 2011 was Arkhangai Aimag’s First Annual Health Fair! This event was made possible thanks to funding we received from the Millennium Challenge Corporation and from wonderful people in America who donated to the cause. A big thanks goes out to those who donated, particularly Mark’s parents.

We’d been talking about this fair with our counterparts for months and months but as things often happen here in Mongolia, much of the planning came down to the last minute. We were scrambling the week of the event to get everything ready. But in the end, the event happened and went pretty well.

The event included 4 main events:

1) 5K Community Walk and Run
This ended up being a little less than 5K, as we just used a course the PE teachers already knew about and could easily explain to everybody. It also just ended up being a run, rather than a big community walk, but that’s okay. We had adults and students participate (separately) and it was a lot of fun. And everybody who participated got a t-shirt custom printed for the event!

Lining up to sign up for the 5K. It was all about matching track suits.

Pointing out the course

And the adults are off!

Part of the race involved avoiding yaks. Yak-attack = disqualification

The finish line

2) Poster Contest
We invited students to submit posters that were related to the theme of tobacco and alcohol use and the effects the use of these substances can have on people’s lives. The submissions were really great. The winning poster will be printed on a bigger poster and displayed in town.

Two of the winners
This one was pretty, and supposedly it was supposed to represent an alcohol and tobacco free life, but it was a bit of a stretch. It also looked like they just copied it from a book. But it was so pretty...

3) Nutrition Trivia Contest
Students were invited to participate in a trivia contest about nutrition and healthy eating. All 10th grade students have learned about this material in lessons throughout the school year.

4) Cooking Contest
All schools were invited to participate in a healthy cooking contest. The school cooks were asked to involve students in this as well. This was the least successful part of the event, as fewer schools turned out than we had hoped. The date of the entire Health Fair was changed from May 14 to May 21 at the last minute and some of the schools had prepared to compete on May 14 and were unable to participate on May 21. Though our counterparts were able to deal with so many aspects of last minute changes, this is one part that suffered. Hopefully they can do this next year with fewer last minute changes and better communication to all schools.

Event planners and winning cooks

Overall the event was a lot of fun. Again, thanks so much to our donors for help making this happen! We hope it’ll happen again next year too.