|My Travel Group in front of the Airport|
Assignment: Go find an example of Mongolian throat singing on YouTube and see how cool it is. I got to hear it in person! :)
Story #1: After all of our cross-cultural training sessions, I had my mental list of Mongolian do's and don't's at the forefront of my mind from the moment I walked in my host family's door. It was hilarious when I realized they had the same kind of list of American do's and don't's on their minds as well! We were both doing our best to not offend each other, haha. For example, in training, they did a whole thing about how Mongolians share everything and don't have the same ideas of privacy as Americans. So it wouldn't be unusual if they just walked into your room when the door was closed without knocking; it's not at all rude, it's just what people do. Also, they will all hang out together in a big group when they're home and it's weird to go off by yourself. Mongolian hospitality demands that they feed you a lot of food and you at least take a bite of everything.
There were skits about all of these things; I'd be willing to bet they showed the same skits to the host families during their orientation. Because my host mother asked me a couple of times (via her Peace-Corps-issued phrasebook) if I was overwhelmed, if I was tired, if I wanted to be by myself. She cooked me vegetarian food and took me to my room to eat it alone. And she showed me how to lock my door. This morning, she pulled out her phrasebook again and sounded out the English for "Are you missing home" and "How is the food." Basically, they're good people and that is obvious regardless of what language either side speaks.
Random Interesting Observation #1: Around the cities there is countryside, not suburbs. There are livestock just hanging out all over the place. Today, there was a whole herd of cows crossing the street in the city. The herds aren't fenced, and they're made up of a bunch of different animals mixed in together. So far I've seen sheep, yaks, goats, horses, and cows - no camels yet! (I'm in the wrong part of the country for that so far.)
Story #2: Today, when my host mother decided the 200 or so new vocabulary words she had taught me in one sitting might be enough, she taught me how to play a game.
This game involved animal bones. I feel like, despite my lack of ger, I have achieved an authentic Mongolian experience. I think the bones involved are ankle bones from cows (or maybe sheep - I get the words confused). Each side has a different name (the one that looks like a camel's hump is called "temee," or "camel," for example). You take about twenty of these, shake them up in your hands, and throw them on the carpet like dice. Then, you have to use your index finger to flick them and bump them into other ones. You can only bump camels against camels, goats against goats, etc. If you successfully do this, you get to capture the one you hit. The person who collects the most wins. (There are more rules. This is what I managed to figure out.)
Later, after I wrote out a few postcards (they're coming, they're coming), I got to actually play this game with one of the random children who may or may not live in my apartment, my host father, my host sister, and the guy who may or may not be my sister's husband. (They all introduced themselves in Mongolian, cut me some slack here!) I wasn't too bad at it, despite doing the wrong thing a few times and then having them all laugh and struggle to explain to me why the move I made was not allowed. My life right now is basically a combination of phrasebooks and charades, haha.
|The View from my Apartment|
Random Interesting Observation #2: America's Next Top Model was on my Mongolian host family's TV this morning.