The Countdown started… Last Impressions of a Fellow

Kathrin (above, left), Ganaa (below, second from the right) and Gerelee (above, right) with their colleagues in Zuunkharaa
Kathrin (above, left) and Gerelee (above, right) with their colleagues
Kathrin Petrick is BOOKBRIDGE Fellow in our learning centers in Mongolia. Last summer she started her fellowship that is now ending. In this blog posts she writes about her last weeks in the learning center in Zuunkharaa.

It feels like not so long ago that I wrote about the first weeks here in Zuunkharaa, and now we can count the weeks left?! What happened in between and why is the time always racing towards the end of something nice? A wonderful thing I have to mention about my time in Mongolia is the winter. It wasn’t as cold as the usual Mongolian winter, all the locals tell you that, but it was enough for me. We had snow since the beginning of December, it was almost always sunny and cold. And I’m not tired of it yet 🙂

Gerelee during an English class in Zuunkharaa
Gerelee during an English class
At the beginning of December, Ganaa stopped working due to her pregnancy. Gerelee replaced her and she didn’t need a lot of time to warm up with workmates and students. Gerelee is eager to learn and teach correct English, but is also easy-going and funny. What I really like about her is that she doesn’t stop asking until she really understands the topic we discuss. She wants to improve her English and I often see her writing down new words in her notebook.

She is also a big fan of Christmas and Christmas music which made the December a cheerful month at the center. In January, Gerelee and I met with her old English teacher and she invited us to her school. The kids were just as excited as we were. We taught in different classes and got new library members which, of course, makes us very happy.

Kathrin sorted and packed more than 8,000 books
Kathrin sorted and packed more than 8,000 books
The books are all sorted and ready to be used. That was and still is our main project in the center. In the last months I started viewing and organizing over 8,000 books, sorting the ones that we had too much off. And yes, I had every single one in my hands. I also took some home to read 🙂 (now they are back at the library of course). By December we had sorted and packed about 2,000 books that were ready to be sent to Ulaanbataar. Amar and I had agreed on that he would take care of the books and store them for other learning centers and institutions. In January, Gerelee finally found a truck to load the boxes. Amar received them all safe and sound. Since then, almost every day we sit together and clean and label the library books. And only three weeks left?! Well, we can do it.

Making buuz, the traditional Mongolian dumplings
Making buuz, the traditional Mongolian dumplings
Three weeks left…every day now at work there are two main topics which always come up: Tsagaan sar, the mongolian new year festival, and Kathrin leaving soon. The preparations for the new year festival take a lot more time though. Everybody is busy with selling and buying meat and making buuz. 2500, that’s what my colleague Oyuna said she will make before Tsagaan sar starts. She hopes it stays cold so that the buuz can be kept outside. Her fridge can not hold so many.
Cony and I both think that ending our six month in Mongolia with a big traditional holiday is just what we need. We want to come back of course, to “our” hometowns Bulgan and Zuunkharaa, in a couple of years. When my workmates ask me when I will come back, I say “I hope in 5 years, for naadam.” And I know they hope so, too!

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