Linda Nordin is CAP Alumni and currently works as BOOKBRIDGE Fellow at our Mongolian learning centers. In this article she writes about what she does in the Mongolian desert.
It is now a bit more than 5 months ago since I waved goodbye to my family in Sweden and more than 6 months ago since I swapped my busy London life to a life in the Mongolian Gobi Desert. So I guess some of you might wonder, what I actually do here out in the desert.
So the main parts of my days are spent in different BOOKBRIDGE learning centers. In the learning centers we teach students in many different ages, from 8 years old children to adult students. All of the BOOKBRIDGE learning centers, except our center in South Africa, are offering English classes. All centers can also offer other type of courses based on the needs of the community where the learning center is located. As an example the learning center I’m currently working at also offers (in addition to English Classes) Math classes, Mongolian language classes and Abacus (an old calculation tool) classes. The learning center is also planning to start up Life Skill classes for teenagers during the spring.
Since my Mongolian language skills are very limited I focus my work on the English classes. Before arriving to Mongolia I did a 150 hours online TESOL (Teaching English to speakers of other languages) course. The TESOL course covered many different topics such as different types of teaching methodologist through history, how to teach the different language skills and how to create lesson plans. During my time in Mongolia this knowledge has been very useful. This far I’ve been supporting the community heroes with creating course plans, weekly and daily lesson plans and co-teach during the English lessons. Before my fellowship program I could never believe how much time teachers needs to spend on planning. I can also clearly see how important it is to have a well-planned lesson and a well-planned course plan to achieve results. So as a quick summary most of my days I spend on lesson planning and co-teaching to support the local community heroes in developing their teaching skills.
However the day has many hours so I have had time to do a bit more. Since the start of my program I’ve been working (with fellow Inés who works in Cambodia) on creating a website where all the BOOKBRIDGE learning centers easily can share teaching activities with each other. I have just launched a first draft of the website in Mongolia and it will be launched in Cambodia this week and I keep my fingers crossed that it will be a helpful tool for all the learning centers when they do their daily lesson planning.
During my time in Sainshand I did a “How to learn English” workshop. The students were asked to brainstorm of how they can learn English inside and outside the classroom. Each students were then given a piece of paper where they picked one idea of how to learn English outside the classroom and wrote it down on the paper. With help from the youngest students we then created a big poster using the written down advice from all of our students. We put the poster on the wall so they always can be reminded of how to learn English outside the classroom. At the end of the workshop each students also wrote down a letter to themselves including three things they will do to learn English outside the classroom. The letters were sealed and they will get them back later this spring to review how well they done.
During a week in December I had my students in Mandalgovi to participate in the Swedish initiative called “Musikhjälpen”, in English “The Music Help”. Musikhjälpen is a Swedish radio show that is broadcasted for 1 week 24/7 each year in December. During the week the people of Sweden are collecting money but also learning more about a chosen social problem. Musikhjälpen 2017 was focusing on helping children from sexual abuse under the slogan “Children aren’t for sale”. During the week me and my students learned more about how we can protect ourselves, we collected money to help other children by learning new English vocabulary, by making drawings to everyone whom gave money to our collection, give presentations and by having a cinema evening where the income from the tickets where donated to Musikhjälpen. In total we collected almost 800 000 MNT where all the money is preventing children from being sold.
We also have a couple of activities just for fun. As per previous blog post we arranged a very nice New Year’s Party for our students in Mandalgovi. Just before I left Sainshand I had a good bye party where we learned more about Sweden, we played some Swedish games and learned a Swedish song and were eating loads of cakes and candies. This far I have been arranging 3 dinner evenings. The first one was in Sainshand where me and my students cooked Mongolian noodles. The second one was with my students in Mandalgovi where we did horse meat hamburger from scratch, we even grinded the meat! And my last one was last weekend celebrating my birthday with the American and Japanese volunteers and my Mongolian coworker. Ending with the best I also had one amazing winter afternoon going outdoor ice skating with my students in the Mongolian winter. The night before we had a big snowfall so we ended up having a snowball fight on ice skates and I believe I never had so fun ice skating before!
For 2 weeks ago I also participated in the Mongolian all staff training. If interested you find the blog post about the event here.