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(the NTV shoot... obvious caption is obvious)
(volunteers at the care out reach: from left, Hiroko from Japan, Fred from Italy, and Xanthie from England)
Here is the final chapter of my tales from Mongolia. This last week showed some very feeble signs of improvement, but unfortunately, it came too late to brighten up the rest of the trip.
Tuesday was actually a delightful day. I participated in the care outreach that Projects Abroad was hosting. We took some kids with serious developmental disabilities, who were abandoned as babies, to a small playground on the outskirts of UB. I wheeled a young man, suffering from cerebral palsy, up and down a little bridge. He loved it. The other volunteers showed their amazing love and compassion to the kids, who are neglected by their society, and sadly to say, even the nurses at the clinic (the treatment they receive, just left to writhe on the floor, it makes you cringe...). As Fred, an Italian guy working on a business project said, "This was the first day of my trip that I felt like a volunteer." I had to agree with him: it was definitely more fulfilling than wasting time at NTV. But, I am certainly glad I did not do that project–it seemed very stressful and exhausting. It takes a special kind of person to take that as a placement, and they receive my undying respect.
On Thursday, NTV actually had me on a shoot. Well, "having me on a shoot," really meant that I just stood there, taking still photos of the recording, but nonetheless, it was something. We went to the construction site of the new UB airport. It is out in the middle of nowhere. I mean, seriously, it took nearly 45 minutes to arrive from the studio, which isn't even in the city center. But it was nice seeing the open Mongolian countryside once again, ...
stsou 552 days ago
Basically haven't written anything in a LOOOONG while, but hopefully I'll be able to catch up now!!
For my entire time in Mongolia, I have been placed in Shastin's Central Hospital (also known as the "3rd Hospital" to the Mongolians, which points towards the fact that Mongolia has 3 big tertiary hospitals serving the peope). And during the first two weeks of my placement, I was shadowing Dr. Erdenedalai Altaihuu ("Dr. Dalai"--everyone seems to have nicknames here!), who is the head of the anesthesiology department, specializing in particular with neurosurgery. I'll have to admit: I was a little meh about my placement at first, because I had been hoping to be more involved in the cardiac department, either cardiac surgery or cardiology. However, two things made me change my mind:
1: I should really branch out more! Most of my medical experience thus far has been related to the cardiovascular field--it would be great for me to see different things and experience different departments.
2: It was probably the best thing that I was placed with an anesthesiologist (and a well-established one at that), because this granted me what felt like unprecedented access to all the various surgeries in not only the neurosurgery department, but also cardiac surgery (where my doctor knows the cardiac anesthesiologists very well). And besides, since the anesthesiologist is comparatively not as busy during the actual surgery portion (with respect to the surgeons performing the surgery, who must be completely focused on their immediate actions at hand), and thus could answer all of my numerous quesitons!
During the two weeks while I was in the anesthesiology department, I was able to see many different brain and spinal cord surgeries--from aneurysms to tumor removal. Probably the coolest ...
I'm going to do things a little differently with this post, and try the positive sandwich, where I start and end on positive notes. First positive thing was that I went Bogd Khan's Palace this weekend. Bogd Khaan was the leader of the theocratic Mongolia, which took place from the fall of the Chinese Yuan dynasty in 1911 to the People's Liberation in 1921... so not really a long time at all... The palace was beautiful, with some very interesting architecture. The Bogd Khaan himself seemed to live in a very plain and basic two-story mansion (of Tsarist Russia style), and all the impressive stuff went to the Buddhist temple in the courtyard. Rumor has it that the whole thing was to look more Russian, but it was deemed inappropriate that an outsider form of architecture would be used in Buddhist ceremony. I bought some great souvenirs there, too.
I have not really mentioned this yet, but overall, I find the people of Mongolia to be very friendly. Just the other day, I was walking down the street, and a man called out to me.
"Hello, sir!" I ignored him, thinking he was going to bum me. "Good afternoon sir! Hello!" he kept on.
"Hi, good afternoon!" I curtly replied, as I kept walking.
"I just want to wish you a happy and blessed visit to Mongolia," he responded and went on his way. I thanked him, absolutely stunned by what just happened. This sort of thing creates a horrible social precedent, because, later that night, a guy started talking to me, and then immediately hit me up for money (good thing I really didn't know he was asking for me, I could barely understand him). The whole thing begs the question, do you talk to people? Mongolia is filled with good, welcoming people. It would be a shame to ignore their good wishes and positivity, but at the same time, you need to ...
My second week in Mongolia has already come and gone, and I can thankfully say that it has been a tremendous improvement.
At Erka's, there really isn't any news. I tried using her washing machine the other day, and I only succeeded in making a gigantic mess. There really weren't any clean clothes after the fiasco either, so today I ended up at the Metro Express laundry service, and plopped down $60. It's a lot for clothes, but I need clean clothing (which I didn't really have for Huvsgul), and I'll be a little more responsible and take my laundry in earlier, so that way the fee isn't as high.
Placement this week was strange... First, Shinee, my boss at NTV, told Pierre and I that there were issues with the inclusive growth video, which didn't make sense (she was just as confused about all of this as we were). Later on in the week, we actually had dinner with one of her friends at the Blue Fin restaurant (if you're ever in UB, go there!). The topics of conversation ranged all over the place, dealing mainly with philosophy and the meaning of life. She's sort of convinced that there is no meaning, and this ideology was augmented by the recent death of her father.
I really didn't know what to tell her... so I mentioned that our lives are like waves crashing upon the shore. They may not necessarily have a lasting impact–when they hit the shore, they're gone, and that particular wave will never return. But that does not mean that it was meaningless. Little waves can destroy huge boulders that finally give way to erosion, little waves can make a child (or an adult for that matter) feel an exhilaration that really cannot be compared. I told her that we are to the best waves that we can be, to be great, and noble, to love and to be loved (as is mentioned in the Bible, she ...
Perhaps it wasn't the most straightforward of paths to get here (San Jose to LA to South Korea and finally to Ulaanbaatar, with 3-4 hour layovers in between), but after 24 hours of travel, I'm finally here in Ulaanbaatar! YAY
The weather was sweltering today, nearly (or at) 90degrees F, although I've been assured this isn't the norm. At least the heat is dry heat! If there was humidity thrown into the mix...*shudder*
As soon as I leave the airport, I'm struck by a few observations: 1) there are SOOOO many Toyota Priuses on the roads (the Mongolians actually have a joke about it, saying that if one were to close their eyes and throw a rock in any direction, it would hit a Prius...that's how ubiquitous they are in UB); 2) drivers seem a tad bit less concerned about following traffic rules than they are in the States (example: parking sometimes seems to be more "literally wherever there's room available" and less "park in the lines")--and yet astoundingly, cars are unscathed and people still get to wherever they need to go; 3) everything seems so much more quiet. And not for lack of people--there are about 1.5 million people in UB, approximately half the total Mongolian population--or lack of things (there are plenty of shops and restaurants everywhere), but nevertheless there seems to be a stillness in the air, a stillness and quiet that actually felt striking to me personally, as soon as I stepped out of the car. It's something that is so hard to come by in a city setting back in the US.
As part of the Induction, Tugi (a medical student summer volunteer at Projects Abroad) took me and another girl who had come recently to get our money exchanged, our cell phones fitted with new SIM cards, and to eat lunch (which would be my first meal in Mongolia!). And ...