Things are going really well, got loads of stuff to tell and pictures to post – just no time to do it! This week a new teaching volunteer has started, we’ve done songs and I’ve been taught how to dance by a 10 year old, there was a charity event at the school today, and I’ve even managed to squeeze in some site-seeing as well. So yeah, lots of stuff happening, but what I really want to post about is something that happened on Thursday last week.
So my afternoon class arrived, if possible even more hyperactive than usual, and begged my supervisor (Ono) to ask me to end the class an hour early because they wanted to prepare for a ‘surprise’ – but not to tell me what it was. All would be revealed at 3pm, when my other supervisor (Zulaa) was due to arrive. Intrigued, of course I agreed.
So we had a lesson, finished early, and they all ran off and I went up to the staff office. One of the girls (Solomee) came up too in order to, I think, keep watch over me. She’d stand in front of me and gabble on at me in emphatic Mongolian punctuated with random English phrases (favourites were “good morning teacher!” (it was the afternoon) and “my name is Solomee”). If I tried to go outside, she’d attempt to stop me. Occasionally I’d be visited by another student who’d come in, point to something (a pen or a piece of paper), take it, then disappear again.
After about an hour of this (by which point I was dying to know what this was all about), a group of my girls came into the office and thrust a pair of flashing pink plastic bunny ears into my hands. I dutifully put them on. They then grabbed my arms and physically dragged me outside into the courtyard. As soon as I’d stepped out of the door I saw my entire class; they yelled and cheered and ushered me to a small table, where Zulaa was seated (wearing a pair of flashing red plastic glasses and looking as bemused as I felt). Laid out upon the table were sweets, fruit juice and home-made dumplings (they explained that they wanted to give me a taste of traditional Mongolian food). They’d decorated the backdrop with balloons and flowers and a sign that read “We love our teachers”. Things hadn’t even begun and I was already stunned.
Once I was seated, one of the girls stood up, made an announcement in Mongolian, and then to my astonishment…they put on a little play. From what I understood it was a comedy sketch from a Mongolian TV show, in which a husband who’s been having an affair with another parent from school gets found out.
It was hilarious, I’ve got a couple of clips of it here:
A group of them then stood up and sang some songs in Mongolian. There was also a solo act by the naughtiest boy in class, and then a song in English (consisting of the single line “Good morning, good morning, and how are you do?” – awww). And once the songs finished…the girls performed a dance for us!! I’ve got videos of all of these as well but haven’t had a chance to upload them yet (it takes so long) – when I do I’ll post the links.
It was so surreal and wonderful and just the most brilliant and inspired thing, and left me completely in awe. It was all executed in this slightly shy but eager-to-please manner that they have when they attend my classes, which makes them such a joy to teach and just be around generally. Zulaa was actually in tears at one point. They had came up with the idea and put it together all by themselves. Neither of my supervisors knew anything about it – apparently they had the idea the day before when I’d taken the afternoon off sick. They told Zulaa they loved the English classes so much they want them on Saturdays and Sundays as well…!
AND THEN THERE’S MORE.
It was about 5pm, they’d all gone home about an hour earlier after lots of smiles and hugs and and I was sitting in the office feeling incredibly warm and fuzzy, when I heard a thundering of footsteps up the stairs and half a dozen of my kids burst through the door and screamed “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” I was slightly taken aback (it was a day early) – but who cares!
They then rushed downstairs (dragging me along with them) and into the classroom, which had the lights off and blinds drawn. Standing at the back were the rest of the children holding little candles, and one of the girls at the front holding a GIGANTIC cake. And they all sung happy birthday (in English!) and thrust some sweets and a stuffed doll (“it looks like you”) into my hands and hugged and kissed me! For the second time in an afternoon, MIND=BLOWN.
They explained that many of them had a concert to attend on Friday and so they decided to celebrate my birthday a day early instead. In fact, they had only actually learned it was my birthday about it a couple of hours earlier when I told them we’d play some special games and have a fun day, so they must have ran out and got the cake and stuff after their little performance had ended, and come back to give it to me in time before I left work…
I don’t even have the words.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the teaching placement – pretty much just considered it a precursor to the nomad project (which was the reason I had chosen Mongolia in the first place) – but this one day alone would have made the entire Mongolian trip worthwhile. And that was last week – this week has actually been the best yet!
Anyway, enough of my blathering. I know what you guys really want is the pictures 😀