Before leaving home I had a vague idea or yet an expectation of what I thought Mongolia would be like. The vastness and wide open space was correct. Other than the large Aimags or provincial centers there are so many mountains and trees that could keep this hiker occupied for years. As I exited Chinggis Khan Int. I was greeted by a dozen or so Peace Corps representatives holding a sign welcoming me to Mongolia. These individuals would soon be my mentors and colleagues, to help me become the best version of myself as I journey through learning the language and culture.
Feeling a little emotional, blaming it on the jet lag, we soon left and were on our way to the first training site.
At first I wasn’t sure if I was in Russia or China. It was the middle of the night but the familiar smells and Cyrillic signs and such made me think otherwise. That first morning I woke up thinking I was in my apartment outside Moscow. Everything seemed so familiar. That comforted me in a way. But I opened my window and could see. the. MOUNTAINS. And right outside our hotel was a small village. Rows upon rows of small homes and gers (yurts). It was nothing like I’ve experienced in China or Russia. Mongolia is indeed it’s own corner of the world. This country has managed to preserve it’s culture in between two huge countries and I was drawn to that and am looking forward to understanding more.
The first week of PST (Pre-Service Training) has come to a close and I will be heading North to continue training and living with my host family for the next 11 weeks. The hubs and I will be separated but will see each other at our weekly training meetings.
Yesterday we received our host family assignment and I could put names to those individuals who have agreed to take me in. It felt real in that instant. In training they continued to emphasis that we should become part of the family and not only a guest. I will be sharing a room in their home and share every meal together. If you can imagine, I am ecstatic. My host dad is a bee keeper and mother a teacher. I look forward to learning from them. Right now they are names on a paper but soon will become like a family to me.
I am ready to get to work. At PST they emphasized that this country is ready and willing to continually progress and are welcoming to education. I was drawn to Peace Corps because of their approach to development. Time and time again its an organization that empowers individuals to gain skills necessary to improve themselves and their communities.
I am ready to become a part of that. The next 3 months of Pre-Service training will be challenging but knowing that I have 2 years of this work motivates me. I am ready for the next challenge ahead. Let’s do this.
My favorite quote from PST:
If you’re planning for year, sow rice. If you are planning for a decade, plant trees.
If you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.
– Chinese Proverb