I am bewildered at how to capture this experience. There is so much I want to explain/recount/share. I anticipate questions that you, my dear friends and family, may have—they were many of the questions that I had, or assumptions I’d made that I needed affirmed or not—but how do I know where to begin?
Since internet is not available in my soum (sort of village) of about 2300, I can’t possibly update you on everything as it unfolds. The best I can do right now is tell my story and let the details creep in around the edges.
Those who know me even a little probably know that I identify as a “city-girl.” How quickly that is changing! Suffice it to say, I am embracing the Mongolian culture, people, and way of life. And, according to one of our language teachers (Tomee), my Mongolian is really good! How happy that makes me after only 3 lessons!!!
It is amazing how people are able to communicate with so few words in common. We adapt by acting out, developing a sign language, using dictionaries and phrase books… and laughing a lot! Yesterday, my host-sister was struggling with the dictionary and phrase book, so she wrote me a note to communicate exactly what she wanted to say. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read the cursive writing! I had to ask her “please re-write it in the printed letters” using my homework to get the message across. Then, I used the dictionary to translate what she wrote.
Of course, the situations have been pretty basic and we have been intentionally surrounded by those who want us to succeed. It remains to be seen how we do when we get to our permanent sites at the end of August. Then, there will likely be fewer Americans with whom to socialize and compare host-family stories. Of the 10 of us here, 7 of us went on a hike yesterday—our first “day off” since leaving the US. The views are incredible here!
Maybe there isn’t much in the way of information in this post, but hopefully my enthusiasm is coming through.