6 months ago, I left my familiar home for a place I had only read about. I didn’t yet know about the great friends I would make, both with my fellow volunteers and my Mongolian counterparts, the family from the tiniest, isolated town that I would grow to love even through our language barriers, the customs that would become my daily routines, or the weather that would make me redefine any notion of seasons I had ever held. I didn’t know how much I would cherish letters sent from home or the single can of jalapenos that I have been saving, but I knew that I was in for an adventure.
Despite living alone, I have been cared for by many people. Through the magic of the internet, I am able to call home often. When I have a problem, my counterparts are quick to my rescue. With my first cold of the winter arrived teachers to my home, bringing tea and chocolates, giving me remedies for my illness. I feel compassion from the members of my community with whom I interact. It is shown in my store lady’s concern: “Make sure to dress warm. It’s good that you live close.” It’s in the students who follow me to and from school yelling, “Bagshaa!” reminding me of my role as their teacher, and it’s in the ones who scribble down lyrics to Mongolian pop songs for me, reminding me of my role as their friend.
I am thankful for my past 6 months in Mongolia, for my friends and family back home, and for the ones that I have made in-country. Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you all!