Next time, I’m taking the train

Children are children are children. Are children. They desire attention and affection and role models and activities. I daresay it, they even desire to learn. I didn’t have to come to Mongolia to learn all of that, but I’m glad I did.

This past Sunday, my fellow CYDers (Community Youth Development workers) and I took the train to a summer camp outside of Darkhan. We stayed until Tuesday evening and then took the train back home.

[First of all, riding third class on the train was much more comfortable than riding first lap on a microbus, which includes sitting on the person’s lap next to you while the person on your other side sits on yours. Don’t ask me how it’s done. It must be part of the magic of Mongolia.
Second of all, the train takes almost twice as long, but it is well worth it. You see some countryside, can stretch out on the shelf-like beds, and the path is the same every time (not always true of the pothole/other cars/livestock avoiding micros).]

Back to camp: tea breaks are a wonderful idea, if only because you can eat real yogurt and raisin buns. There doesn’t even have to be tea.
As for activities, volleyball turns out to be a popular sport here. Frisbee, too. But dancing? Now we’re talking. Disco every night? Yes, please!
On the other hand, teaching English is a capricious sport. It usually works when it’s impulsive with a small audience (e.g. one to two people), doesn’t work so well when the audience is large and varied in age, and becomes exciting when it involves competition, particularly between the genders, particularly with teenagers. I found that inappropriate English words tend to make their way into the working vocabulary of youth much easier than others and are usually the first words to hit the English speaker’s ears once the youth learn of the English speaker’s English speaking capabilities. Yes, I am aware of how shocking this news is.

Other positives of summer camp: rest, quality time with other English speakers, sightseeing. [The last may be a byproduct of searching for phone service in the countryside, but it still counts.] I took a picture of a rock with some Russian on it. I saw some cows I haven’t seen before. I made an unfamiliar tree into a toilet for a few moments. I walked on sand in the forest. And when we returned, TEA BREAK. Life can be really trying sometimes.

Basically, summer camp can be summed as followed: When you have the opportunity to play frisbee, or to hike to a Russian rock, or to dance, and you’re told it’s practice for the real world, take it.

And make sure to take the train.

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5 thoughts on “Next time, I’m taking the train

  1. I, too, love your tree toilet. Man, if disco is the dance, I am jealous! But I’m so thankful for the experiences your having, especially lap-to-lap-to-lap-to-lap bus riding! Great blog with a great balance of detail and explanation..

  2. I recently watched the Babies documentary and kept thinking about you when the Mongolian baby was on screen*. You should find that kid and get his autograph. Shouldn’t take long since there’s only 3 million people there.

    *I just assume you’ve seen that documentary and if not, consider yourself obligated.

    • I have seen Babies twice. The first time, I didn’t know I was going to Mongolia yet, but I dubbed the Mongolian baby (actually his facetious brother) as my best friend. And then I was invited to Mongolia. So, uh, the autograph will happen. Just give me a couple years…

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