Monday, July 12, 2010
Mid Center Days + Naadam
Last week marked the 1/2 waypoint of the summer. The entire group of trainees returned to the dorm in our town for 3 days of training/fellowship. At the end of the summer, each trainee has to take a Language Proficiency Exam (LPI). Based upon standard criteria, we need to score "novice-high", which means that we can communicate with host country nationals in basic sentences using correct grammar and decent pronunciation (the test is oral in Mongolian). If we don't score that high, we have to have tutoring in the fall and take the test in November. This test is the source of most angst (along with food issues). On Tuesday, we took a practice LPI to see how we were doing and to determine levels of classes. They are regrouping the students and Ashley has been put in the advanced class. I have been told that I will be in the advanced or intermediate...not sure until tomorrow. Is it better to the the dumb kid in the smart class or the smart kid in the dumb class? Wednesday - Friday were full of training, meetings, health evaluations, etc. Some of the classes were helpful (cultural norms at holidays), while others were not. There was a class called "romantic relationships" (dealing with cross-cultural relationships), which even the married couples had to attend. Thursday night was a barbecue and dodgeball game between sites, which was fun. The barbecue was prepared by the PC trainers and I had my first salad since arriving in Mongolia (also beef shish-kabobs and kool-aid). Friday was morning training and the local Naadam events started. We didn't get out of training until 6pm, so we missed it here on Friday. However, almost everyone went over on Saturday. We saw wrestling and the end of 2 horse-races. Fried food was served everywhere and airag (fermented mare's milk) and vodka were passed around. On Sunday, my host family went to UB, so I went to a "horhog" (sheep bbq) with my friend Ryan and his family. It was a fun time (6 hours) and the food was good. Ashley went to a similar event and then her family went to the Chinngis Khan Statue Complex outside of UB. According to her, it looks like an American type monument and was very impressive. On the way back, they stopped in UB and went to another monument. Sunday-Tuesday this week is Naadam in UB. The local events all lead up to the big one this week, which is broadcast on multiple channels. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures this week, so I will try to get something together for the next post.