Ah, teachers’ day. This photo was taken at some kind of ceremony honoring three of our teachers (one from each ‘generation’ [young, mid-career, and recently retired], although I couldn’t tell you why these three teachers were chosen); the girls were acting in a skit about the retired teacher’s life, I think. The previous sentence gives you a good idea of how much I know what’s going on at any given time.
All four of these girls are teachers’ kids. Thanks to Mongolia’s lack of hangups about keeping work and family separate, I see them scampering around the teachers’ room every day: Preening in front of the mirror, practicing their cursive at the table, waiting for their mothers to finish work and take them home. They used to stare at me in silent horror, but now we are buds (when I’m doing anything interesting on my laptop).
The three honorees. From left to right: Baaska, math teacher and insanely good basketball player; Mystery Retired Physics Teacher I’ve Never Been Introduced To; and Doogii, English teacher and possibly the kindest person I’ve ever met.
One of the first units Doogii and I taught together this year was with a group of no-good middle schoolers. I walked into the room that day and immediately recognized them as the kids I’d most hated to teach last year. Glued to their cell phones. Openly disrespectful to their teachers. Slobberingly servile to their Alpha Mean Girl. Cretins, every last one of them.
Right away I’m thinking, “Oh, great, I can’t wait to watch these boneheads walk all over sweet, sweet Doogii for the next 40 minutes.” But they were quiet, and attentive, and on task. And then — and then! — the next day, when it turned out none of them had done their homework, Doogii folded her hands and gently lectured them about responsibility, hard work, and the importance of taking charge of your own education. Heads bowed in shame, and hands fiddled guiltily, and on Alpha Miss Thang’s face, I saw actual remorse.
So that’s Doogii. What a gangsta.
Here’s part of Doogii’s career retrospective display. We spent hours setting this thing up before the ceremony. I show you this mostly because I want you to see the “анхны төгсөлт” and “3 дахь төгсөлт” slips of paper, which were hand-lettered by yours truly. My supervisor handed me the papers and the pen and told me, “You will write these, because your letters are the nicest,” and thus came to pass the most triumphant moment in my Mongolian language learning.
(They kind of translate to “first graduation” and “third graduation,” because those are pictures of her first and third, um, class classes, like a group of students she not only taught English to but also was kind of a homeroom teacher/den mother to? For many years, each? I don’t know why I thought I needed to explain this part of the Mongolian Education System just now, forgive me)
Back to the children, please!
That’s better. This is Namuuntsetseg, the biggest, most shameless flirt in the hospital children’s ward.
A couple of traveling PCVs came through town to put on music therapy seminars, and so we got to hang out and take some pictures and listen to some tunes.
This baby is having his mind blown by the hokey-pokey.
At the orphanage last Saturday, Erdenekhuu (reclining, peace sign, striped shirt, cool guy expression) grabbed my camera and went to town. Every time I asked for it back, he waved me away with a “hold on a minute.” Things devolved into a posed-photo fest as all the other kids yelled for him to take every possible group photo (“Now me! Now me with her! Now the three of us!” etc etc etc):
But he got some pretty awesome candids too, I thought:
I’ll have to thank him for taking my Picture Of The Day for me.