Katieholder’s Blog


I know it’s been a while…

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Work and Bad Things

So, I’m on my second week back at site after a 2 month leave and it’s been going really well. My sitemates and I have been working on getting a plan together for Alcohol Awareness Week and are working on getting a weekly English Movie Night started for 9th – 11th graders at a local school.

Our plans for AAW so far include showings of the Peace Corps produced film “After Sunset” which shows how alcoholism affects Mongolians.  My sitemates and I have decided to focus on high school students and I’ve put together a booklet for parents on how they can talk to their kids about alcohol. We’re also going to have a poster contest and an essay writing contest for 3 schools here in Erdenet.  I’m going to try to get the local paper to cover the events, but first we have to get buy ins from the 3 schools we’re focusing on.

My agency work has been going well and we’re gearing up for our fall trade fair. I’m working on projects with each advisor and am in the process of getting together action plans for each project. My manager (Anar) is really cool to work with and we’ve been brainstorming ideas on how to get the branch sustainable in the next year.

So, everything was going really well until I saw 2 things that made me pause, shake my head, and wonder what the hell I’m doing here.

The first thing I saw was this man outside our office building, so drunk he couldn’t even stand up and on the verge of passing out on the front steps. That’s not too unusual here, but what really made me angry was that his son, about 8 years old, was trying to get him up. I know this kid, since he hangs around the office building in the winter begging for money (I buy him food whenever I see him) to help support his family. The kid has an older brother who also begs and a disabled younger sibling that his mother has to stay home and take care of. Obviously, the father isn’t doing much to help out the family.

The second thing I saw was from the window of my office. I was packing up my bag for the day when all of my co-workers rushed to the window. I walked over and asked “Yuu en?” or “What’s going on?” to which they responded “Fight”. And it most certainly was, though, I would have used the word “beating” for what was going on. A man was literally kicking a woman in the head outside one of the apartment buildings. There were two people in between them trying to stop him, but he would get a kick or punch in about twice a minute. This lasted for about 10 minutes.

Excuse the language, but I blurted out “What the f**k?!” after I saw the first kick. Anar turned to me and said “Where are the cops?” and I turned to him and said “I don’t know, maybe we should call them”. It was kind of like seeing a lightbulb go off in all their heads. They all reached for their cell phones and tried dialing the police. Like, “oh yeah, I guess we could call them instead of just watching this woman get the shit kicked out of her like it’s a pay per view fight”.

Of course the police line was busy. As I stood there and watched, I was torn between my conscience and my safety. I really wanted to go down there and take this guy down with a well placed kick and then pummel him. However, I didn’t want to get pummeled myself and/or hauled off to jail. Fortunately, 3 large men walked up to the guy and handily took care of the situation. Unfortunately, it took 10 minutes for someone to intervene. After that, the cops showed up.

I explained to my co-workers that if this had taken place in any American city, citizens themselves would have stopped the fight and not waited on the police to intervene.

The reason I’m telling you these stories is to illustrate the general attitude here in Mongolia. Many people here have the attitude of “if it’s not happening to me, I don’t care about it”. This is the attitude that I want to try to change here. The more I see it here, the more I’m grateful that MOST Americans have a “Love thy neighbor” approach to life. We give money to charities, we don’t litter, we volunteer and generally have a helpful attitude to our fellow man.

This is one of the great things about being an American and I hope you all keep doing it and encourage others to practice the Golden Rule. Let’s be good examples and hope the world follows.


Summer

I started to write a detailed post about my summer, but I figured it would be easier for me to just direct you to my facebook page and have you look at my Summer 2010 album.

I was in America for 3 weeks for my brother’s wedding, then came back to Mongolia and was in UB for 5 weeks (3 weeks as a Peace Corps trainer for the new CED volunteers, 1 week for Mid-Service training and the last few days for my agency’s All Staff retreat).

So, I was away from site for 2 months, but now I’m back in Erdenet and so glad. I didn’t have to move apartments (joy) but I did lose my MBF (Mongolian Best Friend) to UB (blarg). I have 3 new Erdenet sitemates, 1 new Bulgan sitemate and 1 new Jargalant sitemate.

It’s my first day back in my office and I’ve written out my new work plan for the year and handed out souveniers from America to my co-workers (matching AR Razorback t-shirts that we’ll wear during our basketball and volleyball games).

Caaral is good (and a little fatter) and I’m ready to get back to work and into a (productive) routine. I’m also gearing up for winter as the elderly people are claiming that this one will be even worse than last year.

Go check out my photos for a better idea of how I spent the summer! Sorry this is so short, but I’ve got stuff to do!

Enjoy your amenities!


Love/Hate the U.S.

I had an extremely distressing/punching walls day yesterday (June 21st). It wasn’t anything in Mongolia that had me wanting to cry/scream/punch someone. It was a situation in America. My host sister, Jagaa, who is 18, came to America to work/travel on a J-1 visa. This visa (and her job) was obtained through a certain agency that will, as of now, remain unnamed.

She arrived in Atlantic City, NJ approximately 10 days ago to work at a factory there. She knew her job would be tough, but she definitely didn’t get what she expected. In the first week of work, she has worked 21 hours in a single day (and only received 30$ for that day); worked a regular 8 hour shift and only received 10$; and has had approximately 70$ taken out of her first wages for “fees”. Did I mention that her parents scrimped and saved for several years to get the 4 million tugruks for this “experience”?

We talked last week for several days through text messages about her situation, each day cultivating more guilt/panic in myself since I checked out the agency online and told her that it seemed like a legitimate and good choice. The last straw, however, was when she sent me the following text:

“I don’t know why I ever wanted to come to this place. I hate it here. Katie, you are my last hope. Can you do anything?”

As I read that text, I started to cry. I cried because of my guilt for giving the “ok” to the agency. I cried for my duu’s pain (duu = younger sibling). And I cried because of her lost faith in America. I wrote back to her that I would do EVERYTHING that I could to get her out of there. At this point I was crying and shaking in anger.

I immediately fired off an email to the agency person I knew through email (who I had been in contact with since last week because I’m an overprotective “egch” (older sister)). Needless to say, this was a “stern” email with underlying tones of upper body beatings if the situation wasn’t resolved IMMEDIATELY.

Apparently, I can write a great threatening email because my contact wrote back today requesting my parents’ address and the promise that he would get things moving immediately. He also wrote that he would be starting a sort of investigation of the employer because of the complaints (there had been more than one apparently). After reading his response, I wrote that I had only “talked” to Jagaa through text messages, and gave him that phone number and my parents’ address.

After writing my “stern” email to the agency, I wrote an email to my parents explaining what was going on and asking if they would be willing to take Jagaa in for the summer. I sent it. I waited 30 minutes and decided that this wasn’t something that could wait several hours. I needed to talk to them. Now. I called them at 5:30 p.m. (Mongolian time), 4:30 a.m. (Arkansas time).

I first talked to my Dad who was, understandably, groggy and kind of out of it. He handed off the phone to my Mom who listened to me as I cried and told her everything I’ve written here. My parents, who are probably the most wonderful people on the planet, immediately said “Sure, she can stay with us”.

I texted Jagaa the good news today and her response was “Thank you so much. I will never forget your help in my life. I need to work to pay your family back for food. Where do you think I can get a job?”

Ok, seriously, I doubt that my parents would notice a decrease in their food budget because of her, but she was insistent that she work “because I want to increase my English and not be a burden”.

 Did I mention that she was an awesome girl who is incredibly sweet and responsible?

I’m hoping that her site change can happen quickly (within the next week or so) so that I can spend some time with her in AR while I’m there for vacation. I’m hoping that she can have a great experience in AR so that her view of the U.S. isn’t tainted forever by memories of NJ.

One of the goals of Peace Corps is to teach host country nationals about America and I don’t want her to learn only negative lessons.

When she gets to AR, I know she will have a great host family (mine) and a built in network of people who care about her (my family and friends). She is very shy, but if you make a small effort, she will open up to you. She loves Fashion TV, card games and making new friends. She loves American culture and wants to be an English teacher in Mongolia some day.

To my parents: let her know that she is welcome to bathe every day, show her how to wash clothes in the washing machine and tell her that pets are allowed in the house. Teach her that cats and dogs are our friends and should be treated well. Let her watch the TV in my room in the basement (she loves MTV and everything American). Her parents are slightly Buddhist but mostly Agnostic. Talk about her religious views with her (but don’t be….you know).

You really don’t have to “invite” her to do things. Just take her to gatherings.  If you have a BBQ in her honor, all the better (hint, hint). Again, I hope/wish that I’m in the U.S. during her transition, but if I’m not, please be patient with her, just like her parents were with me.

As always, “enjoy you amenities”. Here’s a link:  http://www.humantrafficking.org/updates/875

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Sh&t happens…

I realized today after reading my friend’s blogs post  http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/note.php?note_id=393926754435 a lot of you won’t understand what I say when we meet.

That’s ok. Cuz I won’t understand you now. Somthing happened to me in Mongolia and I can’t explain it. I changed and did you. Still, that’s cool. I won’t try to change you.

Enjoy Your Amenities,

Katie

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


3 Weeks ’til Vacation!

I decided that I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties to you guys and thought today would be a good day to amend that. First off, yeah it’s my birthday, but because I’m in a place where time has a relative meaning, I’ve decided to age backwards instead of forward.

Kind of like Benjamen Button but without a Brad Pitt character involved. So, instead of 31, I’m turning 29. Done. The weather here is great right now. No humidity and the hottest days so far have been about 80 degrees. Of course the weather here is known to change at the drop of a sheepskin, so who knows what next week will be like. Of course the warm weather brings with it the plague of tourists who I’ve begun to really dislike. They stick out like sore thumbs and are easy pickings for pickpocketers.

The pick pocketers then think PCV’s are also tourists and target us too. Ugh.

When I was in UB for training a couple of weeks ago, I was walking to meet my Mongolian friend Mola for dinner near the Peace Corps office. I had on my backpack because I took it to the office for work. Usually, I never wear my backpack out because it’s such an easy target for pick pockets, but that day I had to take it with me. As I was walking down the street, I was extremely aware of who was around me because I knew I would be a target. As I was approaching the restaurant, I heard some soft footsteps behind me and turned me head a little. I saw a boy about 10 years old with his hand on my backpack zipper.

I whipped around and yelled “No way dude!!!” He turned and tried to look innocent and I yelled at him again to “Keep on walking mofo, keep on walking!!!” I guess my hatred for pick pocketers outweighs my love for children. Oh well.

That was really the only exciting thing that happened to me during TOT (training of trainers). I did get to see a lot of my friends who I haven’t seen since December. I also got to eat some great cheeseburgers, pizza and mexican food (which did some damage to my stomach, but it was worth it).

I also got to go to the airport to greet the new trainees (M21s). This batch is a lot older than my group which made me wonder if the Peace Corps was their fall back plan during the bad economy. I’m going to go to Zuun Mod for July 4th and check out the CED and Health groups.

When I return from the states on July 31/August 1st, I will start training the new business volunteers the next day August 2nd. I’m excited about being a trainer, but also nervous. These business volunteers are crazy experienced and most have MBA’s. It’s kind of intimidating, but I just have to keep reminding myself that I have a year of living in Mongolia under my belt and that’s really where the skills I’m teaching them come from.

So, my birthday here has been a 3 day celebration so far. Wednesday, I went out with my Peace Corps and German sitemates and a great time was had by all. Yesterday, I was on the phone and computer all day making “belated b-day plans” with my friends in UB and tonight, I’ll be celebrating with my co-workers.

They’re keeping the plans quiet, but Ganbat brought in 8 huge meat skewers so I’m pretty sure that a hoorhog is involved in some way (Mongolian BBQ). The only question is–“Will the sheep be alive when we start?” Last year, i was really squeamish/nausious when my host dad got a sheep, killed it and skinned it in the entryway to the house. This year, I think I’ll be better if I have to witness that whole thing again, but it’s time consuming and I’ll be hungry if we have to go through that whole process before we even get the meat on the fire.

I’m going to take a lot of pics tonight, so whatever happens, you guys will be able to see it.

I’m so excited to see all of you in less than 3 weeks!!! I miss you all so much and can’t wait to sit down to a home-cooked meal with you.

As always, Enjoy Your Amenities

Love, Katie

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


TOT (Training of Trainers)

I realize that I haven’t posted a blog in a few weeks, but I promise that I have a good reason. I’ve been in UB working my butt off trying to get the CED sector ready for the new trainees (M21’s). We only had one day off during the whole 14 day circus and we worked approximately 12 hour days every single day.

I got to UB on Sunday, May 23rd and arrived at my apartment where I would be rooming with Amber Barger (M19, CED), Zaneta Balenta (M19, Health) and Julie Tate (M20, Health). We had a 2 room apartment with a shower, balconey, kitchen and 2 couches. The bedroom had a bed in it and some room on the floor for me to sleep. Many times, sleeping on a carpeted floor in a sleeping bag is preferable to sleeping on a “bed”.  I use quotation marks here because many of the things that pass for beds here actually feel like a mixture of plywood and concrete with a sheet on top.

Sleeping on a carpeted floor is sometimes a blessing.

Amber and Zaneta each brought their cats (Kitty Boo and Holly) to the apartment as well which made me miss Big C. But, after restraining myself from strangling the cats (one peed on my backpack and both were awake at the crack of dawn each morning meowing at the birds outside our windows), I was glad I left C at home.

The first week of TOT was devoted to learning how to be a good trainer/facilitator, practice “experiential learning” and mapping out the training sessions. Fortunately for CED, the M20 trainers had begun reformatting the training sessions to include more “experiences” so all we had to do was build on that and tighten the schedule. Amber, Mark and I worked well together and developed our sessions as a team along with our Technical coordinator Baigal.

For those of you who know how I work, To Do lists are my sanity savers. I feel like just making a list gets me calmer and checking things off gives me energy to tackle the next project. That’s how we worked. At the beginning of each work session, we would make a list of what needed to be accomplished and either worked individually or as a team to accomplish these tasks.

Saturday, July 29th, Health and CED trainers went to Zuun Mod (my training site last summer) to do a training panel for host families that would show them common situations that they might encounter with their PC trainee. We also split up into groups of 2-3 to talk to groups of host families about any concerns they had. The families were really great and seemed really concerned about making their trainee feel at home. We were asked questions about good first foods to give to the trainees in order to make them not get sick, games to play, skills to teach, how to help them learn Mongolian and many other things. In my group, there was an owoo (grandfather) who was the most talkative and asked great questions. He took notes, not in Cyrillic, but in the ancient Mongolian script that is rarely used anymore.

The next day, we went back to Zuun Mod to do housing checks on the accommodations each of the families’ had set up for their trainee. The homes were very nice and we only had to make a few recommendations overall. I was thrilled to see the owoo again and learned that he was 82 and lived with his daughter who was the director of the local Chamber of Commerce.

We finished the housing checks and headed back to UB to prepare for the next day’s team building sessions in Tereljch. Tereljch is a beautiful national park outside of UB with rivers and streams, groves and mountains. We arrived, ate lunch and began our activities. By this time, the whole group was pretty exhausted and just wanted to lay around like bumps on a log (including me), but by the end of the first game, we had gotten our energy back and were ready to compete.

By the end of the day, we were again exhausted and used some of our free time to wade in the nearby stream of freezing cold water to cool ourselves off. Of course, I got a bad sunburn and was pretty useless by the end of the day.

Tuesday was National Children’s day, so all of PC had the day off and we took the opportunity to go back to Zuun Mod and have a hoorhog (outdoor barbeque) with Jocelyn and some of her co-workers. We all brought a type of salad or dessert. Jocelyn’s co-workers bought a sheep, killed it and cut up the meat somewhere in the city and brought it out to the field where we were sitting. They threw the meat into a metal bbq thing with some potatoes and carrots and started cooking. After a few hours and a water balloon fight, the meat was finished and we all dug in. Usually, I’m not a big fan of mutton (sheep meat), but hoorhog meat is different since it has that bbq wood fire taste. They didn’t have the intestines cooked (w/ blood inside) because I’m sure Jocelyn told them that none of us would be big fans of it. If you want to know what those sausages taste like, get a penny and stick it in your mouth and there you have it. Then imagine a thick gelatin substance in your mouth when you chew. That’s it.

The following day, we were back at work in the PC office trying to finish up our training sessions. By this time, Mark had left for America on vacation so it was just Amber, Baigal and myself finishing everything up.

The M21’s arrived Saturday night and there was a bunch of us to greet them at the airport. It was kind of surreal to be there again after almost a year here. I really can’t believe that I’ve been here a year. It really doesn’t feel that long. I feel like I’ve lucked out in so many ways with a great agency, great counterparts, a wonderful city, awesome sitemates and so many other things. I like UB, but I really feel at home here in Erdenet. It’s just the right size for me and the people here are great.

Soooo, that’s pretty much it for the last 2 weeks here. It’s not a very detailed account of everything, but there’s plenty of pics on Facebook for you to fill in the blanks. Oh, and I got a tattoo in UB. Ok…as always, Enjoy Your Amenities!!!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Mixed Bag…

This last week has been a bit of a mixed bag in the way of good and not-so-good days…

Monday was spent waiting for word about Ichko’s application that she turned in two weeks ago…no word that day, so Burne, Ichko and I were kind of on edge. The next day, I was done waiting, so I called the EARC woman myself to find out if she was going to be able to go onto the next stage of the application process, the TOEFL exam (an English comprehension exam that is extremely difficult and one of the hurdles many Mongolian students struggle to clear).

So, I called Mogii, chit chatted for a minute and just came out and asked her if Ichko was going to take the TOEFL. She said that she is!!! I asked when the exam was going to be given, and she said that Ichko was scheduled for May 15th which only gave us two weeks to cram. Well, aside from this whole application process, Ichko also has her own regular final exams to deal with this month so we really couldn’t work any this week. However, her mother and she went to the school director and asked him if Ichko could have a week off of school to prepare. He said yes, and so Ichko and I will be spending all of next week together.

Since we couldn’t study together this week, I let Ichko borrow some books and DVD’s to keep up her English lessons. I never thought of “Edward Scissorhands” as a teaching tool before, but that’s what it’s being used for now.

Soooo, I was having a pretty good week, feeling good about Ichko’s progress and really looking forward to the Cinco de Mayo party Brad and I are hosting at my apartment on Saturday (which means it’s technically an Ocho de Mayo party, but whatever) for our sitemates and co-workers. We found tortilla chips in Erdenet! Bring on the nachos!

Then an email from my Mom showed up in my inbox on Thursday. She told me that my beloved cat Penelope was diagnosed with an abdominal illness that can’t be treated and is fatal. The vet told her she may have only a week to live. After reading that, I basically cried at my desk all day long which worried my co-workers. Mongolians generally do NOT like cats, but my co-workers know that I have Caaral and a couple of “American cats”. They gave me hugs, patted me on the shoulder and brought me tissues throughout the day. It was the most difficult day I’ve had here so far, and the only day where I wished I was back home so I could snuggle my baby girl Penelope.

I went home early at 5:30 on the orders of Odnoo (my best Mongolian friend here and great co-worker). I called my parents and talked to them for about 30 minutes before they had to head off to work themselves. The talk helped a lot and I also got to Skype with my good friend Molly for a little while which also helped.

So, I’m back at work today and am really resolved to distract myself with grant research, emails, program discussions, etc. to keep myself focused on why I’m here in the first place. I also have some party planning to do, English club, and TOEFL preparation to keep me busy this next week.

I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures of the Cinco/Ocho de Mayo party and post them on Facebook for anyone who is interested. Also, could you guys do a favor for me and go through your DVD collections and pull out any movies you don’t want anymore so that I could lend them out to my English students in the fall? Disney stuff is actually really great as are romantic movies (comedy doesn’t really translate well here). Thanks everyone in advance! Remember to Enjoy Your Amenities!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


I didn’t even need to use my AK…Today was a good day.

I decided to write this entry as I was walking home thinking “WOW, today was a kick ass day!”. Don’t get me wrong, I have good days most days, but today was one of those days where I felt like I really accomplished something big.

So, to start off, I actually woke up BEFORE my alarm clock went off. That, in and of itself, is an extremely rare occurrence. So to wake up before the buzzing started and to be in a good mood was like hitting the lottery.

So, I got to work (early) and sat down and began to work on my seminars that I will be giving this week (Business Plan Writing). It’s a two day seminar that I was just told I would be doing last week…Oh, well. Normally, I would have stressed/freaked out, but fortunately, this presentation has already been done by my good friend Garrett and I had the English version already on my computer. Score! So, as I was going over my materials, I asked my co-worker/counterpart Odnoo how many people were going to be at this seminar.

“Twenty” she said. I almost choked on my coke zero.

“Twenty?! Really?!”

“Well, between ten and twenty.”

Ok, I’ll confess that I had about a 10 second freak out as my mind/stomach took in that information. Fortunately, the rational part of my brain kicked in and reminded me that 1. I’ve given presentations to bigger groups 2. The materials and information were really good (thanks Garrett) and 3. That large group of people will really make my VRF (volunteer report file) look good for this quarter. Sweet.

Afterwards, my friend Ichko walked into the office on time and ready to work with me on her EARC application. Ichko is the 16 year old daughter of my co-worker Burne and is one of the sweetest, smartest, hardest working kids I have ever met. She is applying for a program that I brought to her attention. The program sends high school kids to America to complete their last year of school. The applicants must take the TOEFL exam (English proficiency test) and the SAT’s. They also have to fill out a long application, write two essays and get three reference letters from teachers.

So because of this long application process (and the fact that the EARC only talked to us Erdenet PCV’s 2 months ago), Ichko and I have had daily tutoring lessons which last between 2 and 3 hours depending on what we’re working on.  After all this time we’ve spent together, we’ve gotten to be good friends and I think her mom really appreciates all the free tutoring (which can be EXTREMELY expensive here).

Since the application is due tomorrow, I knew that I would be spending the vast majority of my day helping Ichko edit and polish her essays. So, we got right to work on the first one and it was only an hour or so before we were finished and moved onto the second one. The second essay was supposed to be about a mistake that the student has made and that they have learned from. Because Ichko is such a great student and kid, she didn’t have a lot of mistakes to choose from. So, we sat there talking and brainstorming things and she finally says, “Well….you know that I got fourth place in the Turkish Olympics, right?”

Of course I knew. She didn’t get 4th place in Erdenet, she got 4th place IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. 

“Well, I was thinking that I probably could have gotten first if I hadn’t gotten lazy in studying.”

“Why do you think you got lazy?”

“I believed that there was no way that I would ever beat the Khazakh students from Byan-Olgii. So, I kind of lost…motivation when it came close to the competition.”

“Ahhhh, so you let your fears keep you from working hard, believing that it was impossible.”

“Yes.”

“That sounds like a great mistake to learn from. Do you want to write about that?”

And so we were off. I taught Ichko how to outline an essay to make sure that she stays on topic and covers all the points (thank you Mrs. Henderson—my high school AP English teacher). After we did the outline, I left Ichko alone to type out the essay on my laptop.

I decided to go to our “mall” to see what kind of merchandise spring was bringing. Since coming here, I’ve resigned myself to only looking at tops, since there’s no way in hell I’m fitting into any jeans here (a size 6 girl would have a hard time shopping here). Or so I thought…I was at a stall, perusing the goods, when the owner came up to me with a pair of jeans and asked if I wanted to try them on.  I don’t know why I said “Tiim”, but I did. And they fit. Unfortunately, the zipper was broken, so I couldn’t buy them. The owner did knock 4,000 tugruk off the price, but, still, how am I going to keep the pants up without a zipper? Still, the victory was won and my butt had fit in Mongolian jeans. Score!!!

As I continued strolling the mall, Burne called me on my phone to say that my landlord wanted to come to my apartment with a plumber to look at my bathtub (which leaks b/c the caulk around the border/wall has fallen off).  So I hurry home, hoping to beat them there so I could do a quick cleaning/clearing of surfaces. I did beat them there, but I forgot that I had been keeping my apartment exceptionally clean the past month, so there was no cleaning/clearing of surfaces to be done. Suck that landlord!!! (my landlord doesn’t like me since I have a cat and she wants to move back into the apartment, erego, the suck it comment)

After explaining to them the bathtub problem, the landlord said that they would be back tomorrow. Cool. I head back to work to check on Ichko’s progress on the second essay. I hadn’t been gone that long, so I really only expected her to be about halfway finished (you know, writing in a second language and all). So I was REALLY surprised to come back to her smiling and waiting for me. So I sat down and was really pleasantly surprised at how well she had written without me next to her. Thirty minutes later, we were finished and printing out the essays!

So, at 6, I started packing up my stuff as Burne was reading over Ichko’s essays. I walked over to them and said how glad I was that all the hard work was over and that I was really excited for her. Ichko grabbed my hand and said “Thank you so much for everything”. I told them that they were welcome and that I would see them tomorrow. That “thank you” meant more to me than anything else has since coming here.

Ok, maybe that was overly dramatic, but it really did make my day.

(Another good thing from work:  My co-worker Erka told me she would take me to get my hair trimmed tomorrow—finally!!! )

So, I left work on cloud 9 and decided to make chili for supper. Fortunately there is a grocery store on my way home that stocks all the fixins. They stock pinto beans and kidney beans, but I’ve never been successful in purchasing the pinto beans. The bar code reader won’t read the can therefore I can’t buy it. That happens a lot there, you have 10 items in your basket, but you can only buy 5. I decided to try my luck one more time and grabbed a can and took it up to pay. Glorious!!! It scanned and I was able to have both pinto and kidney beans in my vegan chili. Small things make me almost as happy as the big things do.

Ok, so while most of the things here seem like small things, it’s the small things that make me feel good.

Until next time, Enjoy Your Amenities!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Plans for the next few months

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