Last day in Ulaanbaatar

So, teaching placement has come to an end. Had a brilliant time with my kids, they’ve given me so much happiness over the last four weeks, and I’m glad to have been able to do the same. It makes my day when as soon as I open the classroom door I’m greeted by screams of “TABBY TEACHER!!!” and am immediately swamped with hugs…or when they just randomly come up to hold my hand or give me a hug or a kiss or a little present…or when at break time they grab me and Christophe and drag us outside yelling “play game!” They all have such beautiful hearts, you just can’t help but fall in love with them. And now I have to leave them behind to go and live in a yurt in the middle of absolute nowhere and milk goats for a month! Hard to imagine now that this is actually what I came to Mongolia for in the first place… :p

Other stuff that has happened…

  • The new teaching volunteer, Christophe, is a massive hit with the kids. They are fascinated by his arm hair and the first time they saw it they ‘oooh’ed and ‘aaah’ed and kept stroking it! Pretty novel in Mongolia apparently. :p
  • We had a brief but harrowing glimpse into the life of Mongolia’s lower class. People in Ulaanbaatar tend to be either wealthy or poor, not much in between, and one of the girls from my class comes from one of these poor families. Her father’s an abusive jobless alcoholic who’s disappeared off into the countryside, and her mother is pregnant, partially blind, partially deaf, and has four kids, the oldest of whom is 12. She goes around the street collecting bottles to try and get enough money to feed the family. Pretty dire. We visited their home to make a donation of food and goods, which is a small ger hut which had nothing in it but two filthy mattresses, some crockery and a TV which I think was broken. When the girl saw all the food we’d brought them, she just kept hugging and kissing us and whispering ‘thank you’. I just cried at this point. The boy said his bigget wish was that he could grow up faster so he can take care of his family. What a childhood to have… It was all so simultaneously tragic yet beautiful to see how these kids who had nothing cared for and looked after each other. There was none of the petty selfishness that you often get with children (and adults, for that matter) when it comes to sharing what they have. They gave everything they had to each other, even though they had so little themselves, without hesitation or expectation. It was incredible.
  • A few of the children stopped turning up to the lessons a while ago, and I learned recently that the reason for this was because some of the parents suspect that these  these “free English classes” have an ulterior motive behind them – i.e. that we are part of some religious organisation trying to indoctrinate their kids… yeah, seriously.
  • My host sister told me that last year she was not allowed to wear yellow or eat fish because of something the Buddhist monks read in the stars. This year she can wear yellow but is not allowed to eat fish or pork. I love Buddhism even more. :p
  • Had my last night at my host family yesterday. To be honest, I’m quite glad to be out. I felt quite uncomfortable around them towards the end of my stay. They’d barely talk to me, leave me to eat dinner by myself half the time, and not once offered to go anywhere or do anything with me. I felt really awkward every time I had to ask for anything. Don’t know if it’s just cultural differences or what. Either way, I feel relieved now I’m not living there any more.

Got mugged on Friday night. Was about 11pm, had taken a taxi back home, but they got me just feet from my front door. I was unhurt but the camera, along with hundreds of photos, is gone. Going out to get a new one in a bit. A shame, because this city had just started to grow on me.

Ok, that’s all for now. Off to the countryside tomorrow morning. The next update (if I survive the cold) will probably be from Sri Lanka. Love to all back home, take care and see you in a month 🙂 x


3 thoughts on “Last day in Ulaanbaatar

  1. Angie says:

    The children were fantastic, weren’t they. Makes you realise just how blase many schoolchildren are in this country about their education, placing little or no value on it.
    Sorry to hear about the mugging, especially loss of pix.
    Enjoy the goats!
    We’re off to Slimes 25th birthday party this weekend, as you’d expect its retrospective.
    Can’t believe how fast your time away is going!

  2. Piscis says:

    Yikes. What an intense month. Sounds like you got to see (and experience) some of the best and worst of humanity all at once.

    Hearing about the mugging is upsetting. I guess there’s still a part of me that instinctively reacts with a need for violent retribution against someone who would do something like that do you. I’m glad you weren’t hurt.

    Stay safe, and enjoy the next leg of your trip.

  3. anniegoodall says:

    Terrible and sad about the woman and the children – brings home to us in the western civilised world how much altruism and compassion there is in communities that are so poor and have practically nothing. Your story made me think of your experiences in Malawi and the people there. Also of grandma.

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