Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh I want this to happen!!!!

A few weeks ago I heard a man named Dan Austin on my Rick Steves Podcast. He was talking about a book he wrote about pilgrimages in travel and how to make any trip more meaningful by making it a pilgrimage, which doesn't need to be about religion. He also talked a little bit about his organization called 88 bikes. 88bikes is a micro-philanthropy project that gives bikes to kids in developing countries who are challenged to be their own heroes. Well, I thought to myself, I am in a developing country!

So I got Mr. Austin's email off the website and told him a little about my situation. He emailed me back the NEXT DAY! So a few emails later and they would like to roll on the project. They are interested in doing a large endowment, possible 500+ bikes! There are still many logistics to work out and a lot of work ahead, but I think we can make this happen!

I am really REALLY excited about this. Alot of the work I do here is great, but pretty vague in the final impact aspect. I feel this is something measurable and sustainable and really needed that I could help achieve for the kids here.

The organization is really great. They don't keep an office or a staff, so all the money goes to projects. It is only $88 to sponsor a bike. The kid that receives your bike will get a postcard that shows the Sponsor, a world map, and the Sponsor’s hometown. Photos and film of the project are made available to the Sponsors, and each Sponsor receives a thank-you letter with a photo of the child who received their bike.

I will keep this updated as the project progresses. They want to get this going this summer! Also, they want to set up the bike shop in a ger!!!

love, C

PS. His email is coulditbepossible. I love it!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nuhkt again

Well I made it back from UB! I was going to wait until tomorrow to come back, but decided to leave early so I could meet with some VSO people in Arvaikheer tonight. It was canceled. Oh well, it is cheaper to be in Arvaikheer than UB anyhoo.

My trip to the city was super fun. The first night I met up with a few PCVs and we ran into I think the entire population of ex-pats in UB who were on a St. Pat's Day Pub Crawl. A few of us joined in and much fun was had. The night wrapped up on a good note with me winning 2nd place, and a pair of NEW socks, in the Irish Jig Contest! It is my heretige after all.

Khongor, the guest house I usually stay it, was under construction and perhaps not the best choice of places to stay, but some of us did anyway. It is going to be amazing when it is done, but walking from the shower to the room, avoiding the wet cement and the workers was a little awkward. Hahaha

Sunday, I finally got to Michelle's, the French Bakery, but alas, the owner was not there so I did not get to practice my French. I did get to practice my Mocha drinking and Panini eating, but I have always been a star at those skills anyway. I probably would've embarassed myself with the French owner and thrown in some Mongolian. Mon Deau!

Later I may have gone to see Avatar again with a group of people. I mostly went for the popcorn. Which was awesome. That night a bunch of us PCVs tried to go to a Thai restaurant, but it was closed, so we ended up at an Indian place. I had gone there in December for a PCVs birthday, so I tried something new. We also got to sit under a tent on cushians araund a table, so that was super cool.

Monday morning we headed to Nukht for the seminar. I woke up really nauseaus, which wasn't helped by the bus ride there. Two hours and about a gollon of water later I felt much better. The week was a bit of a blur. We had example life skills sessions and practice seesions for our Mongolian CPs. We also got started on our grant proposals for doing these lessons at camp and continuing it on afterwards. Our camp in Overkhungai Aimag costs about 50,000 Tugruks per camper. That is about $35 and pays for a week of food, lodging, everything. We are applying for a grant mostly for scholarships for disadvantaged students who normally can't go. The rest of the grant funds will go towards supplies such as flip chart paper, markers, pens, notebooks, and maybe some stools for the youth development room at my school. It is really hard to do life skills when everyone has to stand the whole time. I am really excited about this project and really want to keep it going after camp and after the funding. I want to train peer trainers so that my CPs Tunga and Tuul and the peer trainers can carry on after I go back to the land of refridgerators and MTV. (I want my, I want my...)

Of course, the week wasn't all work. We played games in the evenings and watched several episodes of GLEE. I took a few baths (ahhh!) and a bunch of us went sledding one evening. WE didn't have sleds, so we used plastic bags and the folders we were using to keep all our handouts in. It was great fun. Some of the Mongolians were really fearless, trying to ski down on folders and pushing each other to go faster.

Friday afternoon we headed back into UB. On the bus everyone had fun making fun of me for not knowing any famous sport people who are not retired and decided what to eat for dinner. After getting various errands done at Peace Corps (Paul, I need Dramamine!) we dropped our stuff of at UB Guesthouse. This was my first time staying somewhere in UB not at Khongor. UB GH is nice, although I still love my Khongor. The showers are bigger at UB and the dorm beds are softer, but it is 2000 T more a night and then make you make your own bed. I never got the duvet cover on my comforter, it was too hard. Also they have a lot of rules. No TV after 11, no one other than paying guests allowed in the dorm, the door locks at midnight so don't be out after then... They are too bossy. I will be happy when I come to UB again, (end of May?) and can stay at Khongor. Plus they know and like me and are running the tour for when my mom and aunts come.

Ashlee and I went shopping before dinner. At Mercury I bought lemon juice, tabassco sauce, curry powder, and BACON. At Good Price I bought Teddy Grahams, which I am eating as I type this. Ashlee said he had to buy Listerine and for a minute I couldn't think what that was. It is mouthwash, not toilet bowl cleaner. That would be dumb, they don't have a toilet. Although, in my defense, they are the same color.

Ashlee and I went to Millie's for dinner. I had never been there and it is her favorite place. I wanted to go t American Burger and fries, but eventually gave in. We ended up sitting there for a long time because we thought other people were going to meet us. They were waiting for us at the guest house. Long story short, I drank expensive coffee and we read boring magazines outloud to each other, ate Teddy Grahams, and finally ordered without them. It was actually fun and they other people ended up elsewhere, so all was well.

Saturday I was able to get a seat on the 8 am bus back to Arv. My iPod had been running all night and was out of power. Sad story. However, after the seminar and being UB, I hadn't really slept well in about a week, so I was pretty much passed out the whole time. At one point I did wake up to the Lambada music video playing on the bus tv. I grew up with that song as the house cleaning song and had a few seconds of "where the heck am I and what year is it" feelings. Very Twilight Zone.

Today was laundry and climbing a mountain and finally sitting down to write this blog. Also, I have been trying to distill water all day. I hope it isn't broken. Whatever will I drink? Yesterday, my toaster oven wouldn't work, but I fixed it. Maybe I can fix the distiller as well. In the mean time I am drinking orange fanta. The 45 degree weather and the triple peanut I found were the best things that happened to me today. How about you?

Also, some pics.

love, C

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

more photos + update

Sorry it has been so long since I posted. I keep getting distracted. I don't know why. It may be from the immense amount of stuff the internet has to look at. For example, there are about a zillion of funny cat pictures that demand my attention. Plus I do have an actual funny cat here to entertain me. Recently he has discovered the outside. Which he loves and wants to go visit anytime he is inside. Only to whine at the door, be let inside, use the litter tumpen, and meow to go back out! Really!?!?! The world is your litter box Bill, please stopping coming inside the tent to poo!

Monday, as you may or may not know, was International Women's Day. In Mongolia, the men are supposed to do all the women's work and there is no school. In Arvaikheer, 3 out of the 5 PCVs are women, so we made the boys play Settlers with us. (It really wasn't a hard, they like it too!)

Sunday I did laundry again and relaxed. Saturday I did absolutely nothing. I barely got out of bed. It was fabulous. I napped. I read. I watched a movie. I ate peanut butter and jelly. It is nice to be really lazy once in a while. As a result of this laziness however, plus the activities taking up the rest of the weekend, meant I did not get a hike in. Oops, sorry mom. I made up for it my hiking this afternoon. It was really warm today (I could barely see my breath!) and it helped me get out some of the minor frustration I was feeling at having my life skills class cancelled again! blarg.

Friday night was a great treat for us Arvaikheer PCVs. The USAID Mongolia director came to Arvaikheer, along with 2 other USAID officials, on their tour of the countryside effected my the Zud (terrible winter.) The director met with us to talk abut our lives here and treated us to dinner. He also brought us a large bag of granola and some pistaccios. We may erect a statue in his honor. It was a highly enjoyable evening. It was great to meet someone whose career is continuing to make a difference in the lives of people here. Hmmm...maybe foreign service is something I should look into.

I have been spending a lot of time at Book Bridge Library lately helping to organize books. AS of now almost all the books are alphabetized with stickers indicating what shelf the belong on and the authors last name, hopefully making the system sustainable. Now if only we could come up with a way of paying the rent in the long term.

I amm very excited to have another chance to go to UB in a couple of weeks. My counterpart Tungaa, a lady who works at the Aimag Children's Center here in Arvaikheer, and I will go in for a special training the week of the 22nd. It will be focussed on the 11th book of our Life Skills Series which deals with sexuality, specifically with the prevention of STIs especially HIV. We will learn how to teach these sensitive topics and have an opportunity to work on a grant to implement the training at our Aimag summer camp in July. We will again be staying at Nukht, where we had IST in December. I think it will be a great opportunity for further capacity building, community partnerships and much needed information on this important topic.

My hashaa sister is building me a fire right now. She is so sweet for me. Although she does use alot of cardboard to get it going. It's ok. I just keep telling myself that I will not run out before summer, cardboard has a way of turning up. Like today, when I got a surprise package from my godfather Mr. Greg Nielson. He was in Peace Corps when I was a baby. Thank you so much Greggy (cross-your-leggy) for the beef jerkey, peanut butter, candy, and garlic powder. All good things to eat, although not all together probably! Kiss Maggie and Pepper for me! You are swell! And thanks for the lovely note too! It is hanging on my ceiling.

Here is the link to my January photos:

I hope you all are well! I miss you! love, C

PS I watched My Sister's Keeper yesterday. Blek! Take a pass.
I am going to watch The West Wing tonight to make up for it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

February Pictures!


love, C

PS really wicked sandstorm right now, I hope I don't blow away!