Thursday, November 19, 2009

Teaching on Khongor TV

Our new site mate, Anna, and old site mate, Peder, have been teaching English on TV with a Mongolian teacher for a couple of months now. Last week, Leslie was asked to play and teach a song.

On the studio's chalkboard, Leslie wrote the lyrics of the first and most recognizable verse of the Woody Guthrie classic, "This Land is Your Land." After reading the lyrics aloud, the Mongolian teacher, Dashka, translated the words for the over-the-air students at home.

Then all together, they sang the whole verse through:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
To break it down, first Leslie read the lyrics for pronunciation. Then she sang the lyrics, putting the tune with the words. And then finally, to cement each new portion, she accompanied herself on guitar and sang.

With the first line sent out and happily sung in gers throughout Bayankhongor, she continued likewise with the next three lines, finishing by once again singing the whole verse from top to bottom.

And that's how you teach an English song when you can't see the students.

Because the schools have been shut down all month due to the H1N1, teachers have commandeered the airwaves to teach lessons from UB. Regular classes start up next Monday bringing those to an end, but Anna and Peder's regular English classes will still air Tuesdays and Saturdays at 7p.m., so tune in to Khongor TV and learn your ABC's.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Swine Flu Blues: Stand Fast

We took most of October off to be in the States for Nathan's brother's wedding, which ended in a marriage to the lovely Elizabeth Carr, so it seems the trip was a success.

We've been back in Mongolia for a few weeks now after a ridiculous trip home that involved lost luggage, missed flights, an extra day in Chicago and an extra day in Beijing. We made a lot of lemonade from those lemons, but it was an expensive and bittersweet drink. Thanks to Larry Chamberlain, Patriarch Extraordinaire, for his willingness to help us make the best of it, and to Catherine Kruszka, Esq., for finding a place to watch the Phillies, going out of her way to help us recover our luggage, and for giving up her bed.

Unfortunately, now that we're back, the schools in Mongolia have been closed and the country is at a virtual standstill because of the H1N1 virus. At around 8-900, the number of confirmed cases is relatively low, but the per capita infection rate for Mongolia, which has less than 3 million people, is kind of high. No school, no travel, and other types of gathering places like bars, discos, and seminars have also been shut down. For Peace Corps, the official response is to "Stand Fast."

Classes will now also be canceled for the next 2 weeks during this 14 Days of Alert. In other parts of the country, especially around UB and the other 2 bigger cities on the train line, there has been a more rapid spread of the virus, but in our area, 385 miles and 12-20 hours from the all that, we only have 3 reported cases. If nothing else, it would seem that this shutdown may have helped combat the spread for now, but the jury is still out on that. We have a long, long winter yet to traverse before the final verdict is reached.

Peace Corps Washington is requiring that all volunteers be immunized, but with the transportation shut-down, we won't be getting those for a while. We're waiting on a final word from the Peace Corps Mongolia medical staff as to when those will be given. We have a pleasant Thanksgiving planned here in Bayankhongor and we're not looking to travel again quite so soon, so we're hoping there won't be a mandatory trip to UB during that time. We'd prefer to hop a plane ride to the city in time to go to Cambodia in mid December. But we also don't want to get sick.

Here's to standing fast! Whoosh!