Last Monday at work, I was informed that I would be doing 8 hours of finance training on Wednesday and 8 hours of Marketing training on Thursday to local families/business groups. 36 hours is not enough time to create a training program and have it translated. Needless to say, we did the training and it went ok. The finance training was difficult, but the marketing went well and the group was very active in the discussion. I had each person complete a worksheet about their company and then create a basic marketing plan. It was well received and I have been asked to teach it again in the spring. The end of the week was busy with the launch of a new newspaper in Khentii. My NGO is assisting/underwriting a newspaper and I was asked to help in layout and to write a weekly article about business. The paper has been suspended due to financing issues at the moment, but a solution appears to be forthcoming.
Ashley continues to teach copious amounts of English to co-workers and co-workers children/relatives. She has been doing 3 hours a day pretty steadily. This week she is also doing fitness testing of local offices and planning a nutrition class. We may start teaching a cooking class, if there is enough interest in it. I teach usually 90 minutes of English each day, assuming the students show up.
Last week, we went to UB for a Peace Corps Thanksgiving celebration. The PC staff obtained turkeys and each volunteer brought a dish, so it was a giant potluck. The food was amazing and the company even better. In a surprise to many PCVs, I scored 2 touchdowns and had an interception during the PCV football game. We played ~8vs8 touch in a parking lot in front of the ambassador’s house. It was frigid, but fun. Prior to that, we spent the majority of our time shopping and meeting/eating/drinking with friends. I had pizza at least 3 times and a full English breakfast every morning. Also, the beer selection is much better in UB. There are 2 excellent Mongolian beers (Gem dark, and XarXorum) that are readily available there. The shopping was mostly done at Narantuul, which is a huge outdoor market. The only problem is that we were shopping for winter clothes (boots/coats) in sub-zero temps…not a good combination. My feet were numb from trying on boots in the freezing cold and Ashley was shivering trying on coats. One of the "fun" parts about Narantuul is the expectation to barter. Bartering is a long process that involves multiple competing sellers and may result in a few dollar reduction. Due to the cold and our need to hurry, we did not barter (the prices were good enough and we spoke Mongolian to sales people), but I anticipate bartering next time we go. We did get what we went for. However, I still want to get a camel hair sweater and Mongolian traditional boots. (I bought Russian wool-lined, black leather with buckles boots.) We stayed at UB Guesthouse, which was very nice, though we were in a dorm room with many others. Below is a picture of the traditional mongolian boots that I want to purchase (probably different colors though). I think they would be great for shoveling snow and walking to Starbucks for coffee on a snowy morning.
Unfortunately, each time we walked outside, we initially had to cough. The smog is very thick in UB, especially in the early morning during this time of year. There is a gray haze over the city and often the neighboring mountains can not be seen, which is unfortunate because they are snow-capped now. Actually, we have noticed a considerable amount of smog in our town after breakfast and after dinner, particularly if there is no wind that day. Coal is the primary fuel source for this part of Mongolia, so black/gray smoke is very common. If anyone has seen
This week I have been working with a coworker on translating a long, complex English business document into Mongolian. His English is fantastic and it is still a challenge, primarily due to the run-on sentences and use of business jargon. The lesson from this exercise is that if you are writing a business document that will be translated later; please keep the sentences (and grammar) simple.