Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guess it’s about time I threw down some words for those wondering what the hell I’ve been up to. As time goes on, it’s getting more and more difficult for me to add to the narcissistic shrine that is my blog. At least before I could justify it because there were some reasonably interesting stories to tell. However, as time goes on, life is starting to turn into more of… life. And, as with it being an open blog, I have to be at least somewhat discrete about what I write, as people could find this that I might not want knowing the more intimate details of my life and thoughts. As time goes on, maybe I will switch it over to being private to open up the topics I can write, but even now, there wouldn’t be a whole lot to say.
But anyways, as I had kind of led on, life definitely settled down in the last month or so. I’d say I have officially adjusted and settled myself into my new home for the next few years (maybe). Currently, my work has funding from USDA that continues through May/June. After that, when funding runs out, it’s a bit up in the air if we are going to be able to be self-sustainable or not without outside funding, or exactly how a Peace Corps volunteer will fit into a business that is for profit. Generally speaking, PCV’s work for non-profit organizations. As exactly why I’m not sure, but I think it’s so we don’t get completely whored out (e.g. people wanting to charge for English lessons, wanting PCV’s to give trainings/develop clients without co-workers, etc). The real point of a business volunteer like me is to work on capacity development projects at my business, like giving trainings to counterparts and working directly with them. Doing things solo to outside clients kinda misses the point, that is, there wouldn’t be somebody to do it once I leave. That whole “Teach somebody to fish,” thing I guess.
But, I digressed. As I was saying, when the funding runs out, it will definitely shake things up for me at work. I don’t think its out of the realm of possibilities, either, that I might start working at another organization or maybe even move elsewhere. Finding productive sites for business volunteers is a bit more difficult than finding somewhere for a full time English teacher, which most PCV’s are. (Out of the around 70 people in my PC class, only 6 are business volunteers. There are also small groups of health volunteers and youth development volunteers, the rest are TOEFL (teaching English as a foreign language).
Although not full time, I am doing a decent bit of English teaching. 3 mornings a week I'm doing a business English class at my work, and Wednesday evenings I meet with some more advanced students that are trying to get their English up to where they can study abroad. This coming week, I’ll be starting a more basic English class for about 30 Buddhist students, which I’m pretty stoked about. Hopefully I’ll be able to learn something from them as well. I’m probably one of the more selfish people in the PC. Whenever one of my friends told me they were looking for somebody to teach the class, I said I’d do it thinking it would be cool to meet some folks I could learn about Buddhism from. I am a walking and talking contradiction. The ol’ selfish, realist, peace corps volunteer. Wait, what?
But even from the beginning, I wasn’t really doing the PC to “help” people… I think that in itself is a little bit condescending. I wanted to do some more traveling and see the world a bit more, and if people can learn something from me, all the better. I think the whole “invisible hand” way of conducting myself out here works pretty well.

What else, what else. Well, what I have been doing at work is not a whole lot. I’ve given some trainings, taught a bit of English, and helped with advertising and marketing. It’s pretty drab because there isn’t really a whole lot of business advising that goes on, which is what I was expecting. They are really more of a business services company, such as helping people to develop business plans and/or help people get loans for their business. Both of which I don’t have a whole lot of ways to help until my Mongolian develops a quite a bit further. The thing I want to work on is helping businesses to solve problems, (i.e. legit small business advising) but there isn’t a lot of it for me to do. I wrote up an advertisement/program describing a guaranteed solution to any business problem somebody might have. Hopefully it will start drudging up some problems I can help work on. I figure between the internet and my business background I’ll be able to come up with something, and if not, at least it will get me out of the office and meeting customers/seeing their businesses.
So yea, outside of work, I spend most of my downtime either with guitar in hand or watching a movie. My morin khuur has been on the dl for a while because one of the tuning ears on it too loose to stay in tune. I’ve got to take it to somebody, which I probably havn’t put enough effort into. Would be nice if I could just pull out a phonebook and look up “Morin Khuur Repair.”
Friday nights I’ve been playing basketball with one of my English students with a bunch of other people at the school he works at. Some other nights, I'll maybe be hanging out with some of the other volunteers in town, both PCV’s and some from other countries. At the moment, there are a few Euro area volunteers and also a few from Australia.
As of late, after getting settled in, I’m starting to a little itchy again and will probably try to start pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Thanksgiving is coming up, and a bunch of PCV’s are getting together in the capital to celebrate. I figure there I’ll try and set up a few different places to travel to see some friends and a bit of the country.

Yea yea yea… still taking Mongolian classes twice a week, and doing a bit of work outside of class on my own. My motivation wavers, but at the moment, I’m on the more motivated side. As time goes on, I still have the mindset that I need to learn the language and that it’s pretty necessary to be as productive as I’d like to be at work.
Still kicken it at an orphanage on Wednesday afternoons for a few hours as well. Usually end up playing hoops, kicking around a soccer ball, maybe playing some cards or some music together. The kids are pretty cool and I’m starting to get more comfortable around them as well.
Weather is starting to get cold here. The last few nights it was around 0(F) degrees outside. I like the cold though, the air feels so fresh. You can feel it going all the way down your throat. I’m pretty curious at this point what the -40, -50 degree temperatures are going to feel like, but time will only tell how quickly I get tired of it. As it is now, I’m still on my lighter weight winter coat and on my regular shoes, although I usually wear wool socks and I wear wool base layers under my jeans. I busted out my winter boots the one day earlier this week and most people looked at me like I had a dick growing out my head. Although most people do anyways, I guess I need to give it a few more weeks on the boots. But yea, finally chased down those boots this week. They are bas ass, but fucking massive. They are these big leather clodhoppers, lined with fur, with thick felt sock inserts. They’ve got a thick sole on ‘em and seem to be the real deal. I also picked up a heavy leather coat with a second fur layer added on the inside… hopefully it’s the real deal as well, I'm just a little worried the real cold weather will get through the zipper(s) a bit.
Well okay, [insert cliched conclusion/parting here].

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