Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkins, Pizza, and Napkins

Just wrapped up our fall site visit. PC staff travels all over the country, to check up on us and make sure we are safe, warm(ish), and our work plans are being carried out. We invited Naraa, our safety and security officer, Mogi, our regional manager program assistant, and Usukhuu, their driver, over for pizza. I always try to invite the staff over for dinner when they are in town since they may not know the area, and also to get to know them a little better. I guess it’s my way of thanking them for traveling to visit each and every one of us and for taking time away from their families. The road in Mongolia is no picnic. 

So last week, I busted out all of my Halloween decorations; my apartment is filled with pumpkins, ghosts, and witches - most of which were made by students last year. Oh, and one of those fancy orange, black, and white ring-chain banners…. classy! So we all sit down to dinner and they can’t stop playing with all my Halloween stuff and I’m being bombarded with questions. “When is Halloween? How do you celebrate?” etc. I then handed out all these fancy Halloween napkins I have, (when else am I going to use them?!) as we enjoyed our dinner. The amazement and reaction I got in relation to those napkins was amazing. They unfolded them, gasped, and Mogi even said she wasn’t going to use hers, but take it home to give to her son. I then watched as Naraa unfolded the napkin she was given and ripped it into 4 squares and passed it out to each of them. I told her I had more and she could use it. Her response, ‘I only need this little piece for my one mouth.’ Sometimes, I prefer the way Mongolians phrase things. 

And it didn’t end there. 

After dinner, they started posing with all of the decorations and were taking pictures and they even opened up the napkin (again!) to create a backdrop for this Halloween scene they had created. I guess this is exactly what it feels like to share my American culture with Mongolians, and I hadn’t even planned on it.