Sunday, May 23, 2010

Close of Service Conference

By the end of next week, we'll have been here for 2 full years. It's kind of hard to believe because it's gone so quickly, but then again, 2 years is a long time.

During the three-day conference at a luxury ger camp between Ulaanbaatar and Darkhan, Mongolia's 2nd largest city where we finished our training 21 months ago, we discussed post-Peace Corps topics like insurance, job hunting, resume writing and social readjustment. There was a panel of 3 guest speakers who work in international development in various capacities for various lengths of time. From this, we learned about the many options for employment we hadn't yet considered that now make post-Peace Corps decisions even more difficult.

We spent a few hours a day learning about our different post-Peace Corps options and discussing our accomplishments over the past two years. Thanks to Kat Pepperted for the photo.

At the cooking competition, Nathan's team one with a trip to the Indian subcontinent. The challenge was to create a salad, an entree, a redesigned Mongolian dish and a dessert. There was a lemongrass curry cole slaw, three curries, sweet and savory samosas with a yogurt sauce (the mod Mongol dish), and a chickpea chocolate surprise. Congrats to Team West for winning best over.

We didn't get any pictures of the competition, but here's a rousing photo of the judges hard at work choosing from the smorgasbord of the best food we've tasted in many a month. Thanks to Kat Pepperted for the photo.

There was also some dancing and general merry making among the 40+ who were there.

On May 31, 2008, 65 of us met in San Francisco. We flew to Seoul, Korea, and then to Mongolia. By our count, 23 terminated their service early either for family, medical, safety, or other reasons. This 35% attrition seems right on par with Peace Corps worldwide according to unofficial statistics at Those who were missing, especially some recent departures, were missed.

To commemorate our service, Leslie created a slide show. Set to music, the pictures provided by various volunteers showcase highlights of our 2 years from June 2008 to May 2010. Enjoy.

Just after the slide show, we were treated to a magnificent sunset and rainbow. It was quite a majestic site.

The Secret History Ger Camp during our COS and a fiery spring sunset.

Nathan's training group, our Bayankhongor site mates (minus Leila who went to the States unexpectedly and has since returned), and Leslie's training group.

When we returned to UB, we all had our final physicals and dental check-ups. We're both fit and healthy as a horse-head fiddle. Those of you who have been following the weather with some interest, it made it into the high 70s yesterday, got down to freezing overnight, and has settled in about a high of about 47F again today with a stiff breeze. Nonetheless, it's feeling a little bit more like spring now that we can leave off the long underwear.

For now, Leslie and I will travel back to site, finish up some projects, hopefully put on a summer camp, and then we'll return to UB in early July to complete some other pending projects. Our official last day of service is July 22. We have tickets booked for July to London, the first leg on our European tour that will last until late December 2010.

1 comment:

Teacher Jim said...

Leslie & Nathan, I have enjoyed your blog. I found it when I decided to come to Mongolia as a volunteer English teacher.

I arrived a few months after you did. But since I teach in Ulaanbaatar, it was PC blogs like yours that let me see more of Mongolian culture.

Looks like I'll be staying a third year so I wish you good fortune on your return to the US. I'm sure your Mongolian friends and students are so grateful for the time you spent with them. Maybe our paths will cross.

PS. I'll try and keep Travis out of trouble when he moves to UB.