Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Great Britain

So once upon a time when we first got to site, Anthony's director had trouble saying my name and started calling me 'Britain.' I decided to forgive easy since foreign names can be difficult and I STILL haven't gotten down many Mongolian names of people who attend my classes.... (should proooobably get on that.) Anyway, we've come too far and it's been waaay too long for me to all of a sudden correct her now, so in her eyes, I AM BRITAIN. And since she is the boss, several of Anth's OTHER counterparts are jumping on board so, I guess  my transformation to Britain is complete... tell your friends.

So what's Britain been up to lately you might ask? Well, lots. We just got back from 10 days in the capital which was both great and draining. Of course I managed to injure myself, but what was confusing to me, was that no actual injury occurred, but here I sit left with Achilles tendinopathy. Basically the insane pace in which I walk coupled with the frequency I was walking around the city, and the fashion boots I was sporting, resulted in an inflamed Achilles. Bad timing considering I had juuuust started training for a marathon I'm running later this summer. But I'm choosing NOT to take this as any type of sign....

The training we attended was a project design and management seminar. We got to bring a counterpart from our community that is involved in our project. When I originally applied, the person I wanted to bring ended up having too much experience, as she'd been to a training of that nature in the past. So we moved on and found someone from the Agriculture Department in my town, met with him, and caught him up to speed on our greenhouse project. Two days before we left, we found out that he had a seminar of his own to go to that was both work related and mandatory - therefore taking precedence over OUR seminar. After scrambling to find someone, we landed on my original counterpart's husband Nayanbuu.  We were scheduled to meet up at the PC office promptly at 7:50 on Monday morning, and I still hadn't met this person face to face. Luckily it all worked out and we were able to spend 3 solid days working on the finer details of our project and planned where to go from here.

So our big idea is to construct a greenhouse using solar technology that will be able to operate year-round. Going along with that, I'd like to have a training to teach people in our community about new and different types of vegetables and seasonings and how to incorporate them into their diet. 

I think the biggest thing I've walked away from this training with, is that nothing bad will happen if I fail. It won't be an ideal situation, but ultimately I'll only have to deal with my own disappointment, if this doesn't all turn out the way I plan it to; the process is just as, if not more important, than the end result in this case. Going out and building a greenhouse isn't what I'm trying to accomplish. What I'm trying to do, is motivate and guide my Mongolian counterparts to recognize needs in our community and make changes based on those needs. At the end of the day, if my work here isn't sustainable to some degree, I will not have done my job. This whole concept has been somewhat difficult for me to grasp since it goes against everything I have ever known volunteer work to be. In the US we often define volunteer work as the giving of our time and energy for someone or some cause that we deem 'worthy.' In the context of PC, that is the exact opposite of what they want us to do here. While doing things is great, they instead want us to develop the skills of the Mongolians we live and work with so that they can keep on keepin on after I'm removed from this equation. At first, this task seemed extremely daunting to me, but I'm beginning to find ways to reach this end result day by day, and being patient with myself when things don't go my way, or I don't feel as if I'm accomplishing anything, is a tough balance to strike.

On a lighter side note, and yet still related due to the titular nature of this blog, I have been practicing my British accent lately (or as of late, as they might say in England.) The reasoning for this is two-fold. One, who DOESN'T want to brush up on their accents... I mean, reeeeaally? And two, I'm reading 'Lord of the Rings' and I'm finding extreme amounts of pleasure in reading out loud (to myself) in my British accent, and I just can't deny myself this little gift at the end of my days.

Studies have shown that pictures are directly correlated to people's interest in certain subject matter, so going along with that, even though these pictures are completely unrelated, perhaps it has helped  subliminally to keep your interest... Njoi!

My friend Krissy and I and our counterparts working on our projects at the PDM seminar. Did I mention I'm also working on a Business Women's Training with her in her province in June?

Just some cattle headin into work...

A monastery we visited while in UB. The birds were quite active this particular day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Welcome to Camp Destiny

So while settling into my sleeping bag last night, (my nightly routine,) I came to the realization that I have technically been 'camping' for the past 200 or so nights. Every night Anthony and I fold down our futon couch, bust out our sweet PC issued sleeping bags, and transform our living room into our bedroom. I initially called dibs on what is known as the 'sitting' portion of the couch... big mistake. It's quite uncomfortable since over time, two prominent ass grooves have been permanently imprinted into the cushioning to making laying down on it an interesting experience. Anthony gets the back side which is essentially just plywood. When we first took stock of things, I laid down, then stood back up and we realized quickly that there is no support for the backside of the futon, as Anthony went flying off and the whole 'bed' tottered to one side. After solving this problem with reinforcements (luggage,) I can now get up safely to go to the bathroom and Anthony won't plummet to an early death. Although sometimes I still pull a fast one on him and remove the luggage and get up, if nothing else just to keep him on his toes... or face. Before you go judging me, remember that we don't have as much to do out here in Mongolia, and I find great joy in this leisure activity. I'm hoping none of this is coming off as a complaint, because it's definitely not meant to; just trying to show what our arrangements are like to those who have asked and don't know.  

This is an action shot of Anth all tuckered out after he stayed up til 5 am helping his co-workers decorate the gym for a performance. I was in the room talking to him... went into the kitchen, and came back (still talking my face off,) and found him like this. Cracks me up every time... LIGHTS OUT!