LaSERIO Mongolia: Arriving in Mongolia

Written by Girlguiding LaSERIO Mongolia team

Greetings from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia!

Sain baina-uu from Mongolia! After over a year of preparation and anticipation, we’ve made it to the Azara Guest House all in one piece, with no luggage lost and smiles on every face.

After hideous traffic into Heathrow we boarded our 10 hour flight to Beijing. The topic of conversation for days after has been ‘The Meg’, undoubtedly a film not worth watching, but the survival of the Yorkshire terrier in the Chinese sea was of great concern to Ophelia and Sophie in particular. We spent a stuffy six hours in Beijing airport and after a dozy second flight over flood plains and circular dots of gers, we finally landed in Chinghis Khan International Airport to meet Naomi and Lhkana, our Projects Abroad friends.

Our first impression of Ulaanbaatar through the minibus windows was that it was very different to London. Through the left window, the industrial city of Soviet-style, abandoned apartment buildings were visible, whilst on the right, white gers were framed by a skyline of lush green mountains creating a stark contrast to the beige and grey of the centre.

We had delicious takeaway in our new home before heading to bed.

After a hearty breakfast the next morning, we walked through Ulaanbaatar. We stumbled across the arrival of the Turkish prime minister to the parliament building - a very official affair - before heading to the Projects Abroad HQ. We were also amazed by the traffic wardens’ impressively elegant and flowy hand movements en-route.

We learned a bit more about The Child Smile Foundation and the school that we’ll be working at from Ari, as well as a bit of useful Mongolian etiquette (accept things with two hands and don’t step on the threshold!)

We celebrated Rebecca’s 15th birthday with ‘round table’ cheese twists and chocolate cake, as well as planning out rough lessons for the next day.

Day four was our first day of teaching! Rebecca, Sophie and Amy started the day off with some 7am yoga, much to Victoria’s entertainment.

We split into two groups for The Child Smile Foundation, a small brick house with one room for 2-5 year olds and one for 6+ year olds. From 9:30am-12:30pm we had fun playing with the little children, getting our “make-up” done and giggling with them in tickling matches. With the older children we had a great (but tiring) three hours learning colours, playing games and singing the rainbow song.

The names of the children are proving challenging to learn because they make such different sounds in Mongolian - lots of guttural noises that we aren’t used to!

After eating vegetarian for lunch - a final break from the endless meat! - we set off to teach English in the school.

We had mixed experiences in our two groups. Some activities like Fruit Salad and one-to-one conversation working really well, but it was hard to keep structure with easily-distracted students in the other group.

But all in all, it was a great start to our work here and there is lots to improve and work with!

We’ve enjoyed some highly entertaining conversations on the minibus including a heated discussion between Ophelia and Annie: are salmon and tuna the same colour? Should Gemma start watching 'Dance Moms'? There was also ‘wildlife watch’, beginning with some mating flies.

We are all happy, healthy and hydrated with lots of delicious water so see you in our next blog!

Love Charlotte & Sophie, today’s authors of the Girlguiding LaSERIO Mongolia team blog!

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