A very American week!
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 30/Nov/2009 05:27, 34 days ago
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It was an interesting week this week as an American supporter of MEA who is extremely well respected, was visiting for the week. Not only did that mean that there was lots more communication in English (always appreciated!) but she involved me in a number of meetings and training sessions so I got out of the office for a bit. On Tuesday it was the Mongolian University of Education where she gave a presentation on her research in Kyrgyzstan and compared it to the Mongolian system. It was incredibly useful to learn a little about education, as I am not from an education background, but also to here some more about the Mongolian education system. I also got to meet some of the teacher trainees and translators and I felt like a bit of a celebrity as they all wanted to practice their English on me and sit beside me!! Luckily my work colleagues reclaimed me!In work we have a cooking rota, so every three weeks each person cooks for the other 15 people in the office. This is to save on the cost of eating out and it is a nice idea although some of the dishes aren't to my taste and mutton day in and day out is a little repetitive! But on Wednesday it was my turn. They laughed when I pulled out 5kg of potatoes but in actual fact they ate them all! Every 5 mintues someone would stick their head in and check on how I was doing and luckily the receptionist was very good and helped me cut up the mutton and peel the masses of potatoes and carrots. There were a few too many potatoes but it went down well and every one was very impressed and passed their compliments to my mother!!On Thursday we had Mongolian Independence day which is a day off here, and it also coincided with American Thanksgiving. I was invited by one of the American VSO's to come to his house for thanksgiving and as the Northern Irish girl I was given the task of mashed potatoes and I volunteered some extra stuffing. It was a massive palaver as the potatoes wouldnt boil, there had to be enough for 12 people (and being a Shannon descendant I had to make sure there was enough times 3!) but I got there in the end and everyone enjoyed the dinner. It was a really nice meal and great to spend some time celebrating traditions from a different country.Unfortunately we were back to work on Friday but the whole day at MEA was a training session. Again it was great to have the American there as she was giving the presentation and the powerpoint was in English so it was much easier for me to follow and I didnt feel like I was putting everyone out by asking them to translate for me! It was also a very interesting topic - evaluating projects and research methods, and she used MEA and other Mongolian education projects as her examples so I got more knowledge about the Mongolian education system. The major bonus of these training sessions is the food that is laid on for us - it is catered and there was chicken and beef and lots and lots of cake!! Although Mongolian cake is very sugary and the icing is more like shaving foam, it is not bad once you scrape off some of the foam!! We also went out for drinks after work to say farewell to our American colleague which was nice, but the bar was very smoky!I had a quiet weekend in as I was pretty tired and I am now set for next week!