Katieholder’s Blog

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.”


“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.’


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  1. * Kara says:

    Great post! It’s refreshing to read some positive stories. You’ve really got to relish in the good days here. I think a good day can keep you going through a couple of bad ones. And sometimes us PCVs get to be such debbie downers! Speaking of which, seriously, what is with not being able to buy things in the stores here? Mark and I had half of our basket eliminated last week because the lady said they “didn’t have prices”. Can’t they just make up a price and type it in?

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
    • * katieholder says:

      I know, right?! I mean, they even got the price off the shelf and tried to scan that, but the computer wouldn’t take it. Just type in the price! I’m glad they’re using a Point of Sale system to keep track of inventory and all that, but I want my pinto beans!!! They could keep a log of “unscanables” to fill in the manually typed in prices.

      BTW, the text from Mark last night almost undid all the “good day” feelings I had built up…

      | Reply Posted 8 years, 2 months ago

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