Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shopping in the Big City

This past weekend I went into Ulaanbaatar to celebrate Thanksgiving. The Peace Corps staff members made turkey, and everyone brought food to share. It was a lot of fun! I thought you might be interested to know what I bought in this land of plenty (a quarter of the population of Mongolia lives in the capital, so it really is a pretty sizable city) after having been living the small-town life for three months.

Things Meghan bought in UB:

A weird-shaped eggplant
Gouda cheese
Peanut butter
A ger-shaped keychain
A camel-shaped magnet

A tin of sardines for my cat
A bright orange cat carrier

A copy of Harry Potter translated into Mongolian
A book of English idioms with Mongolian explanations

A hat with little fur pompoms on it
Lots of delicious restaurant food (including Indian, pizza, and Japanese), fancy cocktails, and a latte from a cafe every day I was there!

I also got to see the Peace Corps office, get hopelessly lost with friends, and spend a whole day trying and failing to buy an Internet modem. All in all, it was a great trip to the big city - but I'm definitely glad I live in my cozy small town!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Halloween Party

I promised to write about how my Halloween party went. I know, I know, it's almost Thanksgiving. But after Halloween there was the end of the semester, followed by a school break (which for me means an internet break). So better late than never, right?

The weeks leading up to Halloween were filled with, for me, Halloween-themed lesson plans, making decorations, stocking up on candy, planning games for the party, and supervising dance and skit rehearsals. The party was on Halloween itself, and was supposed to start at 6 o'clock. Of course, since we are in Mongolia, it actually started at 7:30. (The bigger the event, the greater the time discrepancy, in my experience.) The students' party was first, followed by the teachers' party.

As the students filed into the gym, my club members were stationed in the Hallway to jump out from behind doors and yell "Boo!" I, in my zombie get-up, got to join in on the scaring. We blasted really loud haunted house sounds from the speakers, and turned off all the lights. After the students stumbled into the gym, our announcers (two of my club students) explained the evenings program and introduced the performances.

First up were the dancers, who did an amazing "ghost dance" in black capes to a techno remix of the theme from Halloween. Then came the skit, which suffered from some technical difficulties. The students were a little bummed, because of the problems with the microphone and a few forgotten lines, but I think they did fine. Both groups performed at the second party (for teachers) as well, and those went off without a hitch.

The performances were followed by games. We saw which class could wrap a friend into a mummy with toilet paper the fastest, which class could win a silly spider relay race, and awarded prizes for best costume, fake pumpkin, and scary poster. Also, there was a scary story contest. I learned from the winning story that a surefire way to get rid of a ghost is to urinate. (No joke.) This was a story "from real life." (And very well written too!) Other highlights included a girl dressed as some sort of blood-covered sheep (winner!), Jack-o-Lanterns made out of peeled turnips, and a poster decorated with real human hair.

After much candy had been given away, the teachers came in (the club students really enjoyed hiding in the hallway and scaring the principal!) and we did the whole thing over again. This time we gave wine for prizes along with candy and danced in an awkward circle. (I've heard this is a feature at teachers parties, which I hope is true. It was hilarious.) My coworkers seemed to have a good time and I didn't get home until after midnight!

My Club Students
It was as good a Halloween as could be had anywhere, and I couldn't stop smiling all night. I think everyone had fun and learned a little something about American culture. Now I'll just have to figure out how to top it next year.