Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mongolian Grilled

At some time we've all felt like tossing everything and taking off. LeeAnn Marhevsky did it.

Why Mongolia? It represents just about the most distance you can put between yourself and anyone in the western hemisphere......If you are running from something, Mongolia is a great place to hide.

Getting there wasn't easy.

It took three hours to get to Los Angeles and another 13 to get to Beijing. Unfortunately, I landed in Beijing with the intention of going to Mongolia on a day when the Chinese government was incredibly angry with Mongolia. The Dalai Lama was in Ulaan Baatar to visit Gandantegcheling monastery. China decided to punish Mongolia by cancelling and delaying all flights from Beijing to Ulaan Baatar. I spent a long day at a hotel in Beijing until the government let up on the flight ban.

Her teaching job there also developed complications.

Two days before the school year started, the head of the English Department, Boda, informed me that due to a mistake in hiring by the administration I would not be teaching primary school English. I would be teaching primary school science and one or two conversational English classes.

If the administration knew that I — a writing major and Women’s Studies minor — had taken exactly one science class in my entire four years at college they probably wouldn’t have been so eager to entrust me with teaching second, third, and fourth graders everything they needed to know about science.

There were some other interesting policies.

You know why kids in Mongolia are afraid of the office? Because Mongolia is different from the States. Mongolia still believes in corporal punishment...... In Mongolia, if you shove dirt in someone's mouth they make you eat dirt. Actual, physical, black dirt.

I can't help but think that fear of the office isn't all bad.

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