So we finally got our placements in Govi-Altai which is way the heck out west. Our flight leaves from the capital UB tomorrow at 11:30am. From what I hear, it's a 3 hour flight and I'm so ready to finally find a place to call home! I'm a little nervous about getting all of our stuff to site... we have a lot of stuff; we picked up our winter bags, and PC has given us even more fun/oddly shaped stuff to lug around, so we'll see how that goes.
So on Friday we had our amazing swearing in ceremony. It was a lot of fun and just a great time in general. All the volunteer wore our formal Mongolian dells and everyone looked really spiffy. There were speeches from our Country Director and the US Ambassador and I didn't realize that not only are we here for PC's 50th anniversary, but it also happens to be the 20th anniversary of PC being in Mongolia. We all stood up and took the PC oath, which is the same one the Vice President of the US takes, and then individually went up and walked across the stage and got our certificates. After "officially" swearing in, we transitioned from being Peace Corps Trainees to Peace Corps Volunteers AND we got a PC pin with both American & Mongolian flags on it.... how legit is that? About 1/2 of our group took part in our cultural performances (myself included,) and they were a combination of speeches, Mongolian singing performances, and Mongolian style dancing performances. It was awesome.... I have some really talented sitemates. I did a group performance with my CED group, and during it, my host mom came up on stage and presented me with flowers and a big kiss DURING my song... it was hilarious. The entire ceremony was taped so hopefully I can get my hands on that and pass it along. But then again, I just asked an M20 volunteer and she said it took them a year an a half to get theirs, so don't hold your breath!
So immediately after our ceremony, we had to load onto 3 buses and drive to the capital UB. Of course there was an overflow of luggage, so there were a few extra meekers packed full of bags. Anthony and I found room in the front of one of these meekers. The 3 1/2 hour trip took about 5 hours. It was a long day. One of the meekers we caravanned with blew a tire, so we pulled over for that. Then the car overheated and we had to stop and feed it water. When we got here, all of the M21 volunteers greeted us and were so excited to meet us and take us out. We are staying in dorms and as soon as we threw our bags in the rooms, we got dragged out for dinner and drinks and then to a club that was reserved just for us PC volunteers to meet and mingle. Last night they took us to a salsa club where we learned some steps and had a ball. We are going to see Harry Potter in a few minutes here and I'm SOO EXCITED!
So I was very excited to meet my M21 sitemates who are currently living in Govi-Altai. Alyssa and Kevin are in town and we got to spend a few days with them (all of the M21s have a training next week here in UB.) Blain is flying in Monday and we won't get to meet him until next week when they get back from training. Alyssa was nice enough to take us around for a tour of UB and help answer all of our questions and try to paint a picture of what Govi-Altai is like. In addition to Anth and me, there is 1 other M22 placed in our aimag center and 1 M22 placed in a small soum (town) a few hours away. We have a really good mix of people and I'm excited to get to know them better and have a little community of Americans there.
Looks like the mailing address is going to be to my agency's address. Unfortunately it is packed and I can't get to it right now. It will be coming soon I promise.