My Trip to The Border

Today I was talking with my family in the States, as we do every Sunday, when I told my mom I don’t really want to buy a separate Sim Card for my phone if I can’t have Wi-Fi as well. Since my mom is a brilliant human being, she reminded me that we’d packed a nifty little gadget that utilizes a Sim Card to create Wi-Fi! After this realization and a conversation with my host father who then pointed to my host brother (recently returned from college), I learned two things: tomorrow I can buy a Sim Card (yay Internet!) and my host brother speaks English…? Besides this exciting news, a lot happened this week.

On Thursday, I received my first package from the United States. My parents had informed me during our last call that it had arrived at Peace Corps Headquarters. It took 8 days to reach Mongolia (4 of those days were spent in Chicago) and then a week before Peace Corps officials brought it to my site. This was just a test trial, so only a few things, like sports bras, were sent from home, but it was still exciting. I’ll be receiving a new package filled with important goods and snacks from my mom!

Two nights ago, my host parents surprised me with a meal prepared just for my liking. When I learned how to say what I like and dislike in language classes, I decided to practice on my host parents; I mentioned that I love pork, just as a random fact to practice Mongolian. Then, this Thursday when we were eating tsuivan, I said that I like potatoes (in Mongolian meals that don’t utilize the plethora of spices Hungarian food does, the potatoes have the most flavor as they soak up the few flavors within the food itself). After going to the market, where I indulged myself and bought two nectarines and one orange, my host father proudly pointed out that they’d bought pork. I didn’t think much of it until he said “thank you………” in English in a sassy demeanor. At that point I realized the pork was bought for me, so that night for dinner, I had an extremely delicious meal consisting entirely of pork and potatoes. My host family is definitely the best!


They also took me on a couple trips this week. We went up to the Russian border on Monday. I had heard from previous PCVs that sometimes your host family kidnaps you on day trips during PST, and you have no idea what’s happening. Well, this turned out to be one of those times. I thought we’d go to the market like we usually do, but my host father kept going past the market and continued onto the highway. Luckily, the music selection was dope. Besides listening to an assortment of Russian, Mongolian, random Spanish, and Backstreet Boys songs, we also listened to Ace of Base, which ironically is a band my dad and I enjoy in the States (I guess this band transcends cultures with fathers). As we were driving, my host father pointed to the sign on the side of the road that said Russia. Apparently, we were going towards Russia. We ended up at the last soum (small town) right before the border. When we arrived, I called the PST Duty Office to inform them I had left my training site. We ate dinner at a khuushuur restaurant that was somehow owned by a member of my host father’s extended family (I didn’t really understand their explanation) and walked around. That’s about the closest I’ve been to Russia!IMG_2663IMG_2665

I also tried some new food at the restaurant. I’m not sure what it was, but it’s made up of some sort of cow’s milk product that gets mixed with a type of nutty flour used to make dough. The result is a slightly sweet paste.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but recently I’ve had more pictures of the places I visited. Previously, my host family wouldn’t inform me of when I’d need a phone/camera to take pictures, but after a double rainbow last week for which I brought out my nice camera, my host father now excitedly tells me to bring my “tom chck-chck (his sound for a camera shutter clicking i.e. big camera)”. Our trip to the Russian border was one of these occasions. Another occasion was when we went fishing. Now, I say we went fishing, but my host mother and I just watched my host father fish. I learned some new vocab about the river and train since we crossed the train tracks to get to the river. I also got to see the dilapidated wood factory. As we learned in our cross-cultural class that we have once a week, my training site was originally founded as the settlement for people working at the wood factory. This factory used to be the largest wood processing plant in Mongolia! Nowadays, most of the buildings are abandoned, but some are still in good shape and are used for day jobs like chopstick making. Apparently, this is where my host father occasionally works (although he’s retired). Still not sure what he does…

On our way back from fishing at the river, a couple extra people piled into the backseat. Turned out they were our neighbors. I was excited to get home since the mosquitoes were coming out at the river and because I had planned to go hiking with another Trainee. Little did I know that although we were right next to our home, we were not finished with our trip. As we drove by our house, I called my friend to inform him I would apparently not be able to go on the hike. We ended up driving to greenhouses out in the valley, where my host father helped set up the irrigation system and my host mother chatted with other Mongolians.

Luckily, the rest of the week I got to go on some beautiful hikes on the surrounding mountains. This week I haven’t really been running as much, partly because my knees mildly hurt (I think from using the outhouse or from running) and because there was slight drama with the neighborhood children. This week in class, we learned how to talk about our families, our age, and our phone numbers. The day I learned how to say my phone number, two of the neighborhood children happened to ask for it. Excited as I was about my newfound ease with phone numbers in Mongolian, I happily rattled off my number. Now we had been told during orientation by Peace Corps officials to be careful about to whom we give our numbers. I thought this meant random people and acquaintances; little did I know that this also extended to basically anyone in our direct community. That night, I came home and told my host parents I knew how to say my phone number. Right off the bat, they warned me not to give it to anyone but them. This brought up a slight communication conundrum as I had to inform them I’d already given it out. They proceeded to tell me not to answer any of the calls I would receive. Now, I had also been warned by PCVs that Mongolians tend to call multiple times a day even if the calls go unanswered. I was unprepared for the onslaught of so many calls. Every three hours, one of the three numbers would call my phone (apparently, my phone number had been passed around). This wasn’t annoying as some PCVs had made it sound, but I didn’t want to get into a sticky situation on a run where the kids would ask why I don’t respond to their calls. In reality, it was also nice to spend time with other Americans on these hikes after straight integration for the last week and a half into the community. Don’t worry though, I’m back to having my curls boinged by little girls and playing various children’s games (many of them were also played in the US during my childhood so I’m prettttyyyy good at them if I do say so myself). The calls stopped after a day and a half, which was a relief, so now my phone is reserved for calling other Trainees (yay for other Americans)!

I’m excited to go take a tumpun bath, and I’m hoping my host father finishes fixing the outdoor shower soon! Can’t wait to see what this week brings with the introduction of Wi-Fi to my life!

My First Week with a New Family

For the last week, I have lived with my host family and truly gotten into the swing of things during training. When we left the hotel after orientation, there was a whirlwind of hugs and goodbyes. Then we all departed in meekers (tiny buses decked out with lace seats and Mongolian music with local drivers). We left around 9 am and arrived around 3:30 pm. Apparently, this is a short trip by Mongolian standards. There were two stops along the way, one at an outhouse and one at the gas station where we ate lunch. Here are the respective outhouses at each, which honestly weren’t bad (they smell more like a pigsty which is at least natural, and they definitely smell better than port-a-potties):IMG_20170603_1012139


The trip was quite dramatic as Mongolians tend to ignore passing markers and just honk to make other cars pull over. Many drivers also drive in the middle of the road. We’ve been told that this is because Mongolians drive on the right side of the road, but have both left-sided and right-sided steering wheeled cars. This means that the drivers whose steering wheels are on the right have to drift to the middle of the road to know if they can pass the car ahead of them. In addition, the road was quite bumpy. We were lucky since the roads we were on were considered paved roads by Mongolian standards. However, by US standards, they’d be worse than pot-holed roads. Many of the paved roads have huge pot-holes and tire tracks worn into the pavement. The dirt roads are even more drastic. See for yourself…


Along the way, we saw many reindeer, camel, and horse statues (three of the five native herding animals of Mongolia). There were also many animal corpses and skeletons on the side of the road. I’m used to seeing roadkill on US highways, but I’ve never actually seen the remains. Luckily, seeing the horses and foals on the side of the road was more attention-drawing than the skeletons. At the gas stations, I bought some candies for my host family to give as a present along with perfume I’d brought from the US. I spent about 6,000 tugriks total, which is more than a day’s worth of money. We’re each allotted 4,000 tugriks per day, which comes out to 132,000 tugriks per month. As a reference, a 70-pack of baby wipes (which was recommended by current volunteers as a substitute for daily bathing) is about 1,900 tugriks.

My training site is in the north of Mongolia, about 20 kilometers from the Russian border. We were warned by Peace Corps officials to avoid accidentally going on a run and ending up in Russia (more to come military later). When we arrived at the school where our language and technical classes are, we were met by our host families. They each presented us with a bowl of milk and a haddag (traditional Mongolian textile that looks like a scarf but is used more as a respectful ritual). Afterwards, we took all our bags to our families’ homes. Luckily, Peace Corps kept our winter bags, but to make sure we still had a lot to carry, we were given heavy-duty sleeping bags and large water filters.

Once we drove home, I noticed about five girls of various ages staring at me and giggling excitedly at the sight of me. When I waved to them, they squealed and quickly dispersed. I was then taken to my room. It’s quite small, but it was nice to be able to finally unpack! That evening I was fed a bunch of food, which ended up tasting much better than the westernized Mongolian food we were served at the hotel. My host mother brought out her huge photo album, and then I showed my small photo albums (one that I had put together, and two that my amazing sister gave me as a going-away present). After that we ate more and went to bed. I was worried the family would have plans, so I wanted to know when to be ready. Luckily, Peace Corps had provided a handy-dandy phrasebook. Just because Peace Corps wanted to help with my integration into the Mongolian language, they were kind enough to not include the phrase “when should I be ready/wake up tomorrow?” (yay for integration!). Luckily, the family let me sleep in, so all was good.

The next day was Sunday, so after I woke up around 9 am, I ate breakfast with the family. Then my host father called his host Trainee from last year. I was able to talk to him about the confusion with the water filter (the first use should be disposed, but I felt bad wasting all the water my host father had put in it) and ask about where to bathe/shower. After this helpful talk, I was taken to the store where my family bought a 5-liter canister of water (so apparently, they’re still slightly confused as packaged water is safe to drink for foreigners) and then to a shower house! I had a nice shower with hot water, which I should have valued much more at the time… That afternoon, I met some of the neighborhood children, who are extremely fun and excited to meet a new American! Then, I ate dinner and went to bed. Each night I fall asleep to a chorus of cows, goats, and dogs which all start making their respective sounds as soon as sunset begins.

The week started with language lessons. We have two Language and Culture Facilitators (LCFs) who are native Mongolians. One is a Russian and English teacher, while the other is a Mongolian language teacher who has worked with the Peace Corps the last 8 years and doesn’t speak English. These lessons go from 9 am – 1 pm with one 10-minute break and one 30-minute break. Afterwards we have lunch from 1 pm – 2:30 pm for which we go home. I’m usually served soup for lunch, and sometimes for breakfast as well. Then in the afternoon, we have technical training, which for Public Health volunteers means learning about the healthcare system, health education in Mongolia, and common health problems found in Mongolian youth. We’ve had a panel with teachers at the school and even visited the adolescent ward of the local hospital, as well as the HIV/Aids and STI clinic. Apparently, gonorrhea and syphilis are the most common STIs in Mongolian youth. The youngest case at this clinic was a 14-year-old girl.

Once a week, we have the regional meetings, which will typically be on Wednesdays for my region except when the Health Trainees are away practicing teaching at summer camps (woot woot something to look forward to throughout training!). The regional meetings are further nutritional and safety sessions. At this first regional meeting, we got another vaccination. There have been so many, I honestly don’t remember what the last shot was. But the nurse who administered the shot said she remembered me. To quote her: “Ah yes, you’re the one who always sings” (that’s a nice way of saying I squeal loudly when I get shots).

I’ve already noticed my language skills improving. The first full day with my family, I learned kitchen words, like bread and spoon. Here’s a transcript of one of our dinner conversations:

Aab (Dad) and Eej (Mom): … (philosophical and deep discussions in Mongolian) …

Me: Spawn (my attempt at spoon), spawn

Aab: Spoon…

Aab and Eej: … (more intense conversation) …

 Me: Spoon!

Aab and Eej: … (discussions)…

 Me: Spoon, spoon, spoon, spoon, bread!

You get the picture… Now that I’ve been in the community for a week, I can say short phrases, like “it’s hot” and “I slept well”. The language lessons help with grammar and understanding how the language works. We also practice pronunciation, but most of my practice comes from speaking with family and community members. Each day there’s a different topic. The first day was food; then I learned about the sunset, flowers, trees, rainbows, sunrise, and the train. I’ve also learned the five animals of Mongolia (horse, sheep, goat, camel, and cow) in Mongolian, in addition to “pig,” “dog,” and all the baby versions of the respective animals. When we hiked to a temple (I’m never informed of these trips so I don’t bring my phone to take pictures), I learned “step,” “tile,” “chair,” “trashcan,” and “mountain”. I’ve also learned cooking phrases such as “to cut meat” and “to knead dough”. One time, my host mother asked me to cut the meat. This ended up in her having to re-cut the meat since I cut the pieces too large as my host father doesn’t have all his teeth and requires small pieces of meat. In addition, I’ve learned “fire,” “matches,” “wood,” “river,” “boat,” “house,” and “ger” (now don’t worry, I’m not a pyromaniac, I was just learning how to make a fire to cook tsuivan and buuz). My host father also enjoys teaching me comparison words: long vs. short, hard vs. soft, big vs. little, tall vs. short, thick vs. thin, wide vs. narrow, etc.

This past week, the head of Safety & Security stopped by all the houses at my site. I happened to be at home when he was at my house since we’d gotten out of class early. He translated for my host father, saying that apparently, my host father is very impressed with my ability to learn new words and remember them. My host father was pointing at different objects and asking me to identify them in Mongolia. He even showed off my phrases, like “hot water with honey”. This one is slightly difficult since “with” is a case. Mongolian is an agglutinative case language so the suffix meaning “with” gets added on to the end of the word that was added. In this case, I say “honey-with hot water” which means that the hot water has honey added to it. Luckily for me, this is similar to Hungarian. It’s been interesting learning in class about cases, as Mongolian also has cases that mean “to” and “from” and are also added as suffixes. In addition, if you say “I like apples” in Mongolian, an “nd” sound is added to the end of “apple” to identify it as a noun on which the verb is acting (i.e. “I apple-nd like”). This has been slightly difficult for some other Trainees in my class to understand since English isn’t really like this.

I’ve also talked with some of the TEFL (the English teacher Trainees) about their language lessons. The TEFL Trainees must reach Novice-high by the end of Pre-Service Training (PST); however, since Health Trainees will be ideally teaching in Mongolian, we must be at Intermediate-Mid. As a result, the Health Trainees are in smaller sub-groups for language lessons. This first week, each training site was in one group for language lessons, but on Friday, each site was split into sub-groups of 4-5 for TEFL and 3 Trainees per group for Health. We split into a fast- and normal-paced group that we self-selected at my site. I’m in the fast group with two similar-aged Trainees. It’s definitely been helpful that I’m still in “school-mode” while other Trainees at my site haven’t been in school for over a decade.

Besides the language, integration into the community has also been its own experience. There was one day when I ate so many buuz, I felt like I really needed to work out (supposedly the PST 15 is real). I asked my host mother if I could run up the hill we hiked the day before, but she mimed that the dogs would bite me. Luckily, our dog, Ask, is very nice (although he’s not the brightest). He loves trying to untie my shoelaces, even when I wear sandals… My host mother said that I could run on the streets. Then, out of nowhere, a roughly 11-year-old boy showed up right in front of me. Apparently, he was requested by my host parents to be my running buddy for the day. He was paid in candy. Little did I know that besides having a regular running buddy, I would also become Batman’s sidekick (he calls me “Robin” since “Roberta” is too difficult without regular practice!!). Yet, the next day, his friend showed up at lunch and mimed running and said “7 pm”. I rightly assumed that I would be going running again that day as well. Now, I typically don’t run in the US, but it’s the only easily accessible form of exercise here. However, apparently, I am now an avid runner. I run each day at 7 pm… What started out as me with a single running mate, has now become a small group. I now run with three teenage boys. Each day a new neighborhood child joins. Typically, at the start of the run, a small crowd gathers of kids who want to run but haven’t yet garnered up the courage to ask, so they just excitedly watch and wave. As we were finishing the run yesterday, an approximately 7-year-old girl ran up and asked if she could run with us tomorrow. So we’ll see if she joins us today! My first running mate typically rides a bike now that others run with me (he doesn’t really like running). After our runs, we always play volleyball. I stopped counting one night after 17 Mongolians joined in on the fun and a small group of three- to five-year-olds started playing badminton next to the volleyball circle.

On our run yesterday, we saw the military truck coming in from the Russian border, so we all took off at a sprint (see I told you there’d be more). I’ve had more than enough interaction with the military. On a run with my original running buddy, the military truck driving by pulled us over. Well, more like pulled me over, but as my site-mates like to say, my “11-year-old bodyguard” was there to explain my predicament. I was asked where I am from and warned to stay away from the Russian border (like I could even run 20 kilometers there and 20 back…) Luckily, everything worked out, but now I always run with a copy of my passport.

The only slightly challenging part of life in Mongolia has been showering/bathing. Besides the hot shower I had the first Sunday, I have only had one tumpun bath. A tumpun is what Mongolians call a plastic bin. First my host mother washes my hair, scrubbing my scalp raw, and then she leaves the kitchen so I can use my tumpun for the important body parts. It’s slightly better than baby wipes. Honestly, the bathing part isn’t that rough (even considering that I run every day… the wind helps a lot with cooling down and drying clothes); what’s difficult is feeling that my hair is greasy. I can feel it in my scalp. If I could get down a system of washing my hair three times a week, that would be great (but it would also be wasting water, since the water left after the hair washing is used for the rest of the body).

On the topic of water, yesterday (Saturday) I helped fetch water from the well. Apparently, Saturday is the day of work and chores in Mongolia. My host father fixed the floor boards in the house’s entryway and added a cardboard/linoleum layer, while my host mother gave the dishes their weekly intense cleaning (unfortunately cleaning dishes after every meal isn’t really a thing in Mongolia… rather they receive a quick rinse in the same water that’s been used all day for dish rinsing… I try not to watch). I woke up a couple hours later than my host family and, after eating breakfast, immediately went with my host father and a neighborhood boy to fetch water. I pushed three canisters in the makeshift wheelbarrow. Fortunately, the full canisters only need to be pushed downhill (yay for gravity and potential energy… see, you do use physics in your everyday life). The water ran out at the well, so while we waited for a truck to bring more water, I started on my laundry. I used my tumpun again, this time as a basin. My host mother put Tide in the water, and then I used Tide with a bar of laundry soap to clean my whites. The water was then dumped and filled with clean water used to rinse out the soap. I hung up all my clean clothes and then started on my thicker clothes, like business casual blouses, dresses, pants, and sweaters. The hot sun and the wind meant that within 3 hours, all my clothes were dry, even my thickest sweater.

Since Mongolia doesn’t like to leave me time to rest, the water arrived as soon as I was done with laundry, so I went on three more runs. It’s a blessing that my host father has a car because this way we were able to drive the next runs instead of using the wheel barrow. I’m sure in the future, I will have more physically challenging chores, but for now I’m pleased that fetching water was my only duty.

To date, Mongolia has been a pretty amazing experience. Plus, the scenery is beautiful (I have some wonderful photos). I’m excited to see what the rest of PST brings and to get back to having Wi-Fi so my posts can be more frequent and much shorter (I was too excited to share all I learned)!

My Orientation

I’ve been in Mongolia for almost two weeks at this point, and I am only now finding time to write about life since graduation. You wouldn’t think that integrating into a community between classes would leave you without any free time, but boy would you be wrong. For now though, that’s beside the point; the important question is: how did I get to this beautiful country?



The week that I arrived was probably the busiest week of my life. Within 6 days, I went from being a college graduate in Pennsylvania to a Peace Corps Trainee in Mongolia. Graduation was a joyous experience. I saw my sister and her family, as well as my best friend for the last time before Mongolia. The thrill of meeting my college friends’ families and seeing my best friends from home and school in the same location, enjoying each other’s company was exhilarating. It was extremely tiring as well. I think I got a maximum of 5 hours of sleep if that each night. Plus, leaving for Ohio as soon as graduation was over, just to finish packing so that I could fly out with my parents to San Francisco was a lot to handle. Luckily, we were troopers, and got through the travelling without too many hiccups (although one of my bags did break).

After arriving in San Francisco, my parents and I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, ate a plethora of various foods, were happily surprised to receive free admission to Muir Woods National Monument, and continued packing and repacking my new suitcase. When our time together drew to a close, my parents left without a tearful goodbye (that had happened in Ohio when we realized I wouldn’t be coming back home). Then, it was time for Staging.

Since I was in San Francisco before Peace Corps events began, I met up with some other Invitees to explore the city. I saw the Golden Gate Bridge (twice in a week, really racking up my tourist points) and went to a tea garden. We also had sushi for the last time for most likely a long time considering Mongolia is a landlocked country… Then we went back to the hotel to begin the ambiguous and ever-elusive event known as Staging. It turned out to be exactly what you’d expect: ice breakers, Peace Corps history and expectations, and a brief introduction about what to expect from Mongolian culture. We were lucky that a 3rd year recently returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) decided to join us. That poor RPCV; we interrogated him for hours. After the first evening, most of the volunteers went out to explore San Francisco and get to know one another. Then we went back to the hotel to get some sleep to prepare for the grueling day ahead of us. After the only full day of Staging, some Invitees went to buy last minute supplies, while most spent hours repacking their suitcases to meet the weight limit. had a wonderful last dinner at a Yemeni restaurant. Most Invitees ended up going to bed late, even though we had to be down in the hotel lobby by 4:30 am… I Surprisingly, this international trip was one of my easiest to date.

We took a charter bus to the airport and got dropped off at the domestic terminal. Who knew that this mistake, which ended up requiring all 61 Invitees to walk to the international terminal would be our only form of exercise for the next 31 hours. After checking our bags and checking-in for the flight (we definitely created a traffic jam… such a long line), we played the waiting game as our plane didn’t leave until 10:50 am. After that we had about 10.5 hours to sit on the plane and get to know the Invitees sitting on either side of us. Luckily, the flight passed quickly with conversation, movies, and periods of sleep.

Upon landing in South Korea, we quickly had to figure out where to check-in to receive our transfer tickets for the flight to Ulaanbaatar. One of the Invitees speaks Korean, so with his help we were able to swiftly navigate to the transfer desk. Conveniently, the complimentary showers were about 20 feet from the transfer desk. A small towel, soap, and shampoo were provided for each traveler in the shower rooms. I was the second Invitee to get in line, so I had an extremely short wait. Each shower room even provided a new disposable toothbrush! This was the cleanest and most refreshed I had ever felt after a long day of travelling. After the shower, one of the other Invitees and I got pho, and then I took a nap before the flight to Ulaanbaatar.

On the flight, all the Invitees were split up. It turned out that 13 Invitees had to stay in Seoul for the night and take the flight to Ulaanbaatar the next day as they had not been confirmed for tickets on our flight. I ended up sitting next to a 45-year-old man from England who had been living in Mongolia for the last 4 years and in Asia for the last 17 years. He had a lot of interesting advice about the culture that I had not yet heard or read online. He also recommended an app (WordPower) that is really helpful with the Mongolian language.

Once we landed in Mongolia, we went through customs and picked up our bags (no bags were lost, imagine that!). Then, we met up with Peace Corps Mongolia officials who ushered us to the bus. From there it was an hour drive to our hotel on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar.

The next day, we had a late brunch (thank you Peace Corps for giving us time to sleep in). Unfortunately, due to the early sunrise, most Trainees (now we’re called Trainees since we made it to Mongolia, woohoo!) woke up around 5 am. Peace Corps was clearly slowly letting us adapt to Mongolian life as our hotel in San Francisco had been beautiful, and this one still had bathrooms and running hot water. Plus, the food was a mix between Europeanized Mongolian cooking and American breakfasts including eggs and bacon. We even had Wi-Fi (hello snapchat streaks). Thus, began our orientation period in Mongolia.

Over the next five days, we learned about Peace Corps policies in Mongolia, how to stay healthy and safe, and had culture lessons. We also received vaccinations for rabies, ticks, and typhoid… Many speakers were also invited. One of the most interesting sessions was when five current PCVs came and spoke to us about various topics. There were two volunteers who discussed life in Mongolia as an LGBTQ member. Since it is not really accepted in Mongolia, they said over the last year or two years, they have only come out to a maximum of three people. This usually occurred because the people somehow found out, either from using their computer or because they guessed and were surprised by the response. In addition, accidentally outing someone can occasionally cause problems for PCVs as news spreads quickly in Mongolia. There were also two volunteers who discussed life in Mongolia for PCVs who don’t look like the stereotypical “American”. One volunteer is Hispanic from the Dominican Republic, but many Mongolians think he’s from Africa and always touch his hair. The other volunteer is Korean American, so Mongolians were constantly surprised at the beginning of her service about why she can’t speak Mongolian well as they assumed she was a native Mongolian. The final volunteer was a 72-year-old PCV who discussed how life is different as an older volunteer. She said that since respect for elders is prevalent in Mongolian culture, it has been easier for her to be heard by her community members as she doesn’t need to prove her ideas are worthwhile. This session really gave some valuable insight into some aspects of life in Mongolia that I had not really considered.

Two days before leaving, we were given our training site locations. I practiced my family members’ names with some of the Mongolian officials in Peace Corps Mongolia. Most Mongolians have a two-part name. For example, one nurse is named Stone-Flower. Typically, the easier half is the name they go by with foreigners. We’re split up into two regions which each meet once a week for Medical and Safety & Security sessions. This means that the half of the Trainees in the same region will see each other, but the two halves won’t meet up until the end of the three months when there are three days of closing ceremonies. At this time, we will also meet the Training Managers (sort of like school principals) for our respective permanent sites. Three months seems like a long time to live with a host family without seeing many of my friends, but I’m sure it will pass quickly.