Christmas fever has hit Mongolia
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 13/Dec/2009 10:35, 34 days ago
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I am aware that Mongolia does not celebrate Christmas, being a non-Christian country, however they apparently havent got the memo. Sarah described it as Christmas threw up. Mongolians appear to love Christmas decorations so now every available surface is covered in tinsel. This would be cheerful and Christmassy in many situations, and especially heartening for those of us who are away from home however no-one seems to have explained the wonder of minimalism or colour co-ordination. So every colour of tinsel is applied together, in large quantities, along with every other Christmas decoration in every colour and shape on every inch of space that is currently clear. It is a bit of an eyesore!! And we do not escape the joy of supermarket Christmas tunes on replay as they are also a big favourite of Mongolians.I was treated to an overwhelming display of this when I was finally taken on a tour of the projects my organisation does in schools. Minus the overwhelming display of Christmas decorations in most schools the day was a fantastic experience for me. I was able to see how the projects I am raising funds for work in practice, to speak to the children who use the projects and the local communities and to see more of the real Mongolia. I was out in the Khoroo ger districts, the countryside near UB and the only deaf school in Mongolia. it was a really worthwhile day and I am glad I was able to get out.On the theme of Christmas UB is emptying of ex pats who can afford to go home for the holidays (or to somewhere warm!) or those who have finished assignments here. It is a sad fact of life in the ex pat community that it is transitory and it is sad to say goodbye to good friends. But we will have a whole new round of new faces in January and February, and we will no longer be the newest arrivals!We also had our VSO Christmas party this week which consisted of the VSO volunteers and staff chartering a bus to Terelj, sledding, drinking mulled wine, having secret Santa and horse riding. It was a fantastic day, and it felt like Christmas is supposed to - a family of many nationalities and difference experiences spanning 4 generations and just enjoying spending time together.I also had meetings with Amnesty International, people about fundraising, other NGO's and celebrated Mike's birthday! On top of this in work they asked me to organise a raffle and auction for our 5th anniversary party on Thursday night - something I have participated in in the UK but which would usually take at least 6 weeks to organise and plan. I have 7 days, no interpreter and no Mongolian! Also Mongolians have no concept of donating to charity so asking businesses for donations is somethign they have never experienced before. I did one afternoon on my own and they just looked at me like I had two heads when I asked for something for free. I was able to get a volunteer interpreter for Friday afternoon which made things much easier and I started to get some positive feedback and they were interested in donating. I have my fingers crossed that when I call them or visit on Monday/Tuesday they will give me prizes! So it will be a busy week.I have finally found a church now the curfew and public gathering ban has been lifted. It is a very international church with at least 28 different countries represented there and they were very welcoming and friendly and another VSO volunteer goes as well so I knew one face! I am glad to have found a nice church before Christmas so I can celebrate it properly and continue throughout the year - they have a small choir and a sunday school so hopefully once I have been there a few weeks Ill be able to work with them.