Now... onto some camp stories. I tried to write down the more interesting stuff that happened.
Mongolia has a culture that is very homophobic, to the point that it has been said that they didn’t need gay rights passed because it “doesn’t exist.” It cracks me up, however, that cross-dressing and acting extremely feminine is perfectly ok. I suppose because they know they’re faking (they would never to think it as actual homosexuality), and as Alex said one time, being over the top and as far from the norm is the humor here. I suppose so, but still interesting. On Mongolian TV, it’s not to unusual to see a cross-dressing male. We had a Mr/Ms competition, which consisted of the chicks dressing up like dudes, and the dudes dressing up like chicks. The males definitely were WAY more into it. One of my “girls” on my team from first session, and one of the “boys” from my team second session won the competition in their category. Too funny.
Even more hilarious than the little boys (who many of them could have for sure passed as girls in real life), were the PCVs and Mongolian English teachers who participated:
|Kaede, me, Carolyn and Sarah. We're some good lookin' dudes.|
|Soyol... the scariest looking Mongolian man ever. Complete with fake nose thing.|
|Ooo la la, Bob.|
Last year, the PCVs came up with an award system using beads, which went over really well. We wanted to put our own spin on it, so we came up with the idea of using ribbons (in Mongolian, it was pronounced like “totes”). Everyday was a different color, and they were counted up the next morning in their teams.
|Andrew and his Strong Tigers!|
The only time we had to take away ribbons was during the second session, when some of the older kids started to get really bratty really fast. Taking away ribbons was for (including, but not limited to) being super late to class, not coming to class at all, or generally being brats about stuff. Luckily, we didn’t have to take many away.
The last full day, we had a relay day after the final English tests. We gave out more ribbons that day, for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, which tipped the scales quite a bit. The relays in both sessions created some upsets for the final ribbon counts.
Barack Obama and George Bush, BFFs
|Not actually the two campers, but my CPs, Togsoo and Degii!|
Helping me out with the life skill lessons...
and all the campers boo-boos.
We thought that would remind the students to at least semi-good, but alas- on the last day of English classes, Leon discovered that one of the kids who had been previously making a ruckus in his life skills class, was missing. Looking in the usual spots (kitchen, basketball court, and his room) came up short, and I started to get worried. We went to the councilor’s room and asked if they’d seen him. We followed them back to his room, where they lifted a blanket… and there he was- sleeping under his bed with his headphones on. I was pretty darn livid. I mean, really?
After lunch, some of the teachers and I had a talk with him and another kid who had apparently skipped life skills the day before. After chewing him out pretty good and having the teachers translate, Aldarma turned to me and imparted some wisdom: “When I first became a teacher, I was always so angry when students disrespected me… like you are angry. Now… I don’t care.”
“Poop is raining from the ceiling… POOP!” and “HOW DID I WET MYSELF?”
|So blue :)|
Our second room (Maggie and Claire’s old room) was much nicer- electricity, a desk, an extra nightstand, and even an electric plug! The novelty wore off fast when it started raining- inside the room. Sarah woke up in the early morning and wondered if she had actually peed the bed. In fact, it was just leaking from the ceiling. Maybe the ceilings just really hate us.
Wait… what kind of horrig?
The food at camp was actually surprisingly really good. I don’t eat a lot of Mongolian food, so this was the best I could have hoped for. I do wish there were more vegetables, but that’s a different story.
So one night, we decided to have an “American dinner,” because frankly we were pretty sick of all the kids at that point. Usually we would sit at a different table and practice English with them. Anyway, the waitress lady hands out our food, and right away we smell something… off. It smelled so familiar to me, so it took a couple minutes. Was it…? Yes, it was liver stir-fry (horrig, in Mongolian). My host family had given it to me a couple times, once in a huushuur. It wasn’t my favorite meal. Anyway, no matter how hard we tried and how much chili-ketchup we put on, none of us (save Maggie) was able to stomach (ha) it.
|Our dining hall!|
It was quickly noticed by the cooks, to which we had to explain that we’re just really not used to eating geddis (the word for intestines) and such. They in turn felt bad, and wanted to cook us something different. We quickly protested, because we decided it would be a good night for ramen and snickers bars since we were thinking about having that anyway one of the days. Later that night after the evening activity, the cooks surprised us anyway, with about 10 plates of kimbop (it’s like sushi… without fish). Mongolian hospitality!
And now, for some other pictures!
|Altaa watches the class as they take the final exam.|
|Penguin reunion after camp in Sukhbaatar square!|
|DANCE DANCE :D|
|Life skills lessons!|
|Me and some of the campers... I'm so tan now!|
|Finally, a semi-creepy wall mural inside one of the cabins.|