Thursday, May 26, 2011

One advantage to having several groups of visitors is that I was able to see Tumen Ekh twice! Tumen Ekh is a national song and dance ensemble that performs traditional and folk music. They enact the temple dance, complete with masks. They play the zither (my personal favorite), the hammered dulcimer, the horn, flute, and of course, the horse head fiddles. They sing traditional folk songs, and they are throat singers. The dancers perform wonderfully chorerographed traditional dances. And, there is a contortionist! The costumes were beautiful, so this was truly a feast for both eyes and ears. All performed in a small, intimate theater. I may go again!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I've had the good fortune to have several visitors from Columbia College over the past few weeks.
This past weekend, Susanne and Mac Brown, students Nicole Hill and Laura Miller, and I traveled to Terelj. Around the ovoo.

While Nicole and Laura rode the camels, and Susanne bonded with a reindeer, I tried to sort out the humps and legs as this rather large baby nursed!

We climbed all weekend...up the hills behind our ger camp, up Turtle Rock, and to the monastery of The History of the Gods. Up the mountain, across a suspension bridge (it was windy) and up LOTS of stairs. The view was worth it.

The last morning, we learned how to shoot, ala Chinggis Khan. We weren't bad!

Friday, May 20, 2011

We're all excited! It's been a wonderful few weeks with several Columbia College visitors. Nicole Hill and Laura Miller, students, are completing a practicum at the American School of Ulaanbaatar. They were accompanied by Dr. Mary Steppling, who recently returned home and was replaced by Mrs. Susanne Brown and her husband, Mac. Dr. Caroline Whitson and her husband, Turner, were here right in the middle of all that excitement.

The highlight, as far as CC is concerned, was the signing of an agreement between CC and the Mongolian State University of Education for a five-year term of cooperation, shared research, and exchange of both faculty and students. This means that, among other activities, 6 - 8 of my Mongolian colleagues will travel to Columbia next June for 2 weeks filled with English practice, teaching collaboration and lots of fun.....I'm so excited!

Of course, my colleagues at the Teacher's School are excited, too.

The formal post signing picture.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mary Steppling, my colleague and the Head of the Education Division at CC, and two of our education students, Laura Miller and Nicole Hill are here with me in Mongolia. My friend Doko arranged our visit to Hustai National Park. The park contains beautiful landscape, many varieties of plants and much wildlife, including the famous wild horses.
We left on a Friday afternoon, and after a wild ride, arrived at our ger camp.

On Saturday morning, we headed out on a Mongolian safari!

The wild horse, tahki, are the ancestors of modern horses. They have 66 chromosomes, while other horses all have 64. They were "discovered" and then many were transported to zoos and parks and Europe, eventually there were tahkis in many zoos around the world. Meanwhile, they became extinct in Mongolia. In the early 1990s, Holland sent back several tahkis, and they were repatriated at three sites across the country, Hustai now having the largest population - 230 horses and 8 new babies this spring, so far.

Many pictures were taken.

Mary, Doko and Lynne, enjoying incredible weather, beautiful landscape and just having fun.

A marmot! They are quick, and dive into their holes before pics can be snapped - patience was rewarded with a head popping above ground - Gotcha!

We were told that the red deer were too far away to find. A short while later, we were surrounded by them! Doko said that our finding so many wild animals was a sign of great luck for the coming year - works for me!

Deer peeking over the hill! Yes, we're still here.

Wow! First we saw a yak, and later, we literally ran into Yots of Yaks!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

One of the lectures I gave was part of the 60th anniversary of the Mongolia State University of Education. The banner was displayed across the front of the University, and besides the faculty of my college, there were representatives from the 12 other colleges of the university. At the end of the lecture, I was awarded a citation, written in traditional Mongolian script that thanked me for participating in the celebration. (You'll notice in the foreground water and kleenex - yes, I had a bit of a cold).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I just wantd to assure everyone that I was earning my keep! Although my work doesn't make for great pictures and exotic adventures, it is exciting and enjoyable in a different way. I generally end up teaching about 3 classes a week, sometimes an encore or two! We also have a number of special groups of people who come for in-service - we've had two groups of teachers from all over Mongolia, we've hosted principals and teachers from schools with whom we have partnerships / place our students, we're doing a training for the clinical teachers - those who will mentor our students. I am involved in some way with all those groups.

We have almost completed collecting our data which will lead to developing beginning teacher standards and then inform our curriculum and our in-service activities. I'm in the middle of analyzing our responses from 629 teachers, we're gathering data from principals and finally, will survey our own faculty. We've identified 6 core courses that I am now developing - including instruction in new ways of teaching and reaching our students.

We have been invited to present at a Symposium at the end of May. We are comparing and contrasting teacher education curricula from Columbia College, Mongolia, and Russia. We will also present our research and recommendations (above.)

Most days bring requests for new classes, speaking to one gathering or new word is margash - tomorrow. Planning too far ahead is apparently not allowed! It keeps life interesting.

The most fun part of my work is collaborating with my colleagues. Our school has many wonderful, kind, forward looking, genuine, talented and fun faculty members. I'm proud to counted among their friend and colleague.