My Mongolian Childhood

Since I got a sim card and data, I’ve been able to keep up my Snapchat streaks (woohoo!). It’s been a new realization finding out how quickly you actually go through data without Wi-Fi consistently present in your daily life. It’s entirely possible to go through 2 GB in 2 days using only Snapchat and Instagram. I haven’t found Wi-Fi anywhere here, so I keep my phone on airplane mode. The problem arises when my new host nephews decide they want data and try to get me to turn my phone off airplane mode. The two boys spend hours playing random games. The most amusing so far has been a version of Flappy Bird where you have to sing loudly or quietly to move the bird up or down respectively. Most weekends when I wake up and step out of my room, the boys are immediately all over me and want to play cards. Sometimes during lunch breaks on days I have class, we have dance parties!

They’ve also been really helpful with learning new children’s games. Since they came from Ulaanbaatar (UB) to spend the summer with their grandparents, all the neighborhood kids have been constantly in and out of our house (my host nephews are minor celebrities in the soum). I’ve learned a couple games: cops and robbers, wolves and kangaroos, a Mongolian version of 4 square, and a game called “төмс” (potato) where the kids stand in a circle and whoever drops the ball has to go crouch in the middle of the circle and can be hit by the ball by someone from the circle. These games were particularly useful when we went to camp for three days as the campers played the same games.

All the Health Trainees woke up early on a Saturday to catch the 7 am train headed towards UB. We were on the train for 7 hours before arriving at a new province we’d never visited. At the camp, there were about 40 kids who had extremely busy camp schedules. Starting from morning exercise at 8 am, the kids went on hikes, practiced for the talent/fashion show, etc., and ended with dance lessons and a disco at 10 pm. We were lucky that we got to teach them practice lessons on nutrition and exercise. Fortunately, we’d already had some practice before at our training site.

About 20 kids from our soum participated in our first practice teaching. I knew 4 students in the class! My partner and I taught a lesson using Peace Corps’ pre-planned health lessons on nutrition. These lessons act as guidelines that can be adjusted to meet the needs of the class, so we basically redesigned the entire lesson and made new handouts as well. Since then, we have taught another lesson with new partners on alcohol and tobacco prevention. In the coming weeks, we will be teaching life skills lessons and planning a three-day camp for the soum kids! A couple busy weeks ahead!

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