I’ve been posting some photos of our day with the teachers at the ger camp outside the capitol, but it’s hard to get a sense of the flow of the whole day…..we left at 8 am, drove over many bumpy roads, by many roadside shrines set up by shamans (they have blue ribbons), finally to the ger camp, nestled between vast stretches of hills.
Between our sumptuous three meals there, the organizers (who were the Mongolian professors of Japanese this year) had a whole series of competitions for us – we were split into teams. Relay races, a dance contest, a running race, they thought of everything! They had generous prizes and there were many photo opps for the winning teams. The lunch was truly astonishing – we were treated to about a 5 course meal, starting with Russian style borsht, then long ribs with tasty sides, and then each person got a hot black stone, which had been used to cook the meat, to toss about in their hands and lay on the sides of their skull, a Mongolian tradition for good health. Then we drank from the liquid in which the stones and meat had been cooked.
In the late afternoon we all climbed high up the hill behind the camp and beheld the vastness of the countryside, all around. It was very still and silent, air crisp and clear, with a few cows, yaks and sheep grazing below and some lazy dogs sitting near the house of the camp directors.
Finally into the gers, much laughter, chatting, drinking of vodka (some men added a lot of pickle juice, a habit they said they picked up from the Russians), and eating of salty snacks and chocolate, and lolling around….teachers went ger to ger and sampled different snacks from each one….there was much laughter and singing of songs!
Up the hill, the Chinese teachers did Karaoke in the main dining hall — others joined them – this international group was singing songs in Chinese, Korean, English, Italian, and of course Mongolian most of all. By now, most of the teachers were both sated and inebriated, but – out in the hills on a lovely day – why not?
We were very lucky to be invited along on this. We were a very low key, minor part of the fun, since we don’t speak Mongolian and are here for a short time. What we did have was the trust of these wonderful teachers that we would be part of the fun, and hopefully we were. I wonder why we Americans don’t have these outdoor community building activities like this….it’s such a good thing.