Started work!
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 14/Nov/2009 05:48, 34 days ago
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This week was the start of work, for better or worse this is what I am actually here to do and what I have been looking forward to since January when I got accepted for VSO. The experience of ICT, language training and the social side is all great, but it is the work that is the reason I am here and it was terrifying and exciting to be finally at that stage.The organisation I am working for are the Mongolian Education Alliance, an education NGO working in Mongolia to improve the quality of teaching, access to schools for all children and to promote inclusive education. From the information I have so far they are doing a lot of good work.The week was pretty slow to be honest, but that was to be expected as it was induction week and There was nothing really concrete for me to do at this stage. However having met with my counterpart, with all the other senior members of staff who I will be working with and all the program directors I have more of an idea of what it is they want me to help them with and how I can help them to move forwards. A lot of my time this week, when there was internet, was spent researching the different projects MEA is working on and working on the possibilities for future work that they mentioned to me.One of the things I am most excited about doing is helping with the English language debating club. There is a Mongolian one as well which I am excited about too, but at the English one I will understand what is going on, and be able to help the kids with their debating. There is talk of organising a national english debating tournament which I am excited about and I am working on securing a good prize for the winning team.Another thing I am going to be working on is the internship programme for high school student which they are piloting this year. There is no such thing as work experience for students either at high school or at university level, I dont even think there is careers guidance! I got so much out of internships and careers work done by my school that I want to give this opportunity to other students.And there is marketing a magazine for 2-6 year olds, staff development workshops, English classes, staff birthday parties(!!), fundraising for rural libraries, helping with a young teachers training programme and teaching teachers about the differences between the Mongolian and the UK teaching system. In actual fact I am going to be busy this year and there is a lot I can get involved in, and a lot I do want to get involved in!So the work side of things is starting to fall into place. I am very lucky that my colleagues, although they dont all speak English, are extremely welcoming and open. So much so that on Tuesday night we had happy hour to welcome me to MEA! This started with two bottles of wine and a cake. As a few of us were about to leave we were forcibly told to sit back down and have some vodka! Thus the circle of doom began. Shots of vodka were consumed with great gusto and every so often someone would leave without saying goodbye, and the first 2 times I was confused as to why and then 10 minutes later they would return with more vodka. The process of the circle of doom is everyone is poured a glass of vodka and you go round the circle and drink one at a time. This continues until all the vodka is gone and then another bottle is opened. There is no way of refusing politely, in fact no way of refusing at all, it is literally poured down your throat!So 4 bottles later we eventually were driven home. I was a little worse for wear as Sarah will attest to, but I was up and back in work at 9am. No-one else arrived in until 10 and there were some sore heads about! I was warned in ICT not to drink off against Mongolians, but apparently I have a better stomach that these Mongolians!The outside work social life has been continuing as well now I have my voice back. On Monday I visited Mike to chat about fundraising in Mongolia and I was sidetracked into a bar for Maria's birthday and ended up spending a nice evening there. On Thursday we had a movie night in the volunteer room and we watched Michael Clayton and Ice Age 3. And last night I was at a pizza party held by someone I didn't know, invited by someone I had met at a party 2 weeks earlier, and I knew most of the crowd there, and it was a great night of pizza making and craic! There is a fantastic social scene here in UB especially between the ex pats now there is a ban on public places after 9pm!The plans for the weekend are to keep things pretty quiet, do the shopping and the washing and a bit of cleaning, and prepare some English lessons :(