Today, James and I have been in Mongolia for exactly a year.

Let that sink in for a moment.

I’ll probably post some very introspective, self-gratifying post about what reaching the 12-month mark means to me soon, but I digress.

School doesn’t officially end until the beginning of June, but most of my clubs have evaporated already because frankly, most of my students have already checked out for the summer. And who can blame them? After a couple of freak snowstorms in the middle of the month, I am fairly certain the hot weather is here to stay and the sun is going down later and later in the day so that I actually get some daytime after work.

A couple of weeks ago we had the school graduation ceremony during which I took my standard position against a wall, waiting for someone to tell me to stand somewhere else. Such is the life of a Peace Corps volunteer. From that vantage point, I had a great time and may have shed a single tear watching some of my 12th graders graduate during the outdoor ceremony which was held in the courtyard in front of the school.

I was actually relieved it didn’t snow! Here are some of my 5th graders looking cute.

It wouldn’t be a true school event unless the teachers had a quick beauty session in the English classroom beforehand. Outside chaos reigned as it usually does during big events, but inside, we ladies were getting pretty.

My Mongolian is pretty dismal so the finer points of the ceremony were lost on me. Names were called, hands were shaken, certificates were awarded. What I did understand was that the best academic achievers got medals (and that I was asked to help with that) and the best athletic achievers got a lot of medals plus a gift bag. Mongolians are serious when it comes to basketball, volleyball, and wrestling. I was once missed ONE shot during a teachers’ basketball tournament and was subsequently benched for the rest of the tournament.

Each class of graduating girls decided if they wanted to wear the “old” uniforms (the Soviet-looking brown dresses with white aprons) or the “new” uniforms (the blue button-ups with grey skirt and navy blazer that the students usually wear throughout the year).

The ceremony was held in the courtyard in the front of the school and some parents and other community members gathered in the street to watch. I think though, that the pictures say it all, so with no more ado:

Did I say a lot of medals, because I meant A LOT of medals. Granted, this girl won the Asian judo championship so….she probably deserves to jingle when she walks.
12th grade girls modeling the “old” uniform.
A tender moment between a teacher and student.
My colleague Tegshee and her brilliant daughter.
I’ve noticed that many boys drop out of school early (it’s sad and needs to change), but the boys who do stay, generally do very well.

Not to get too emotional, but I am really going to miss some of my 12th graders, who are moving on to bigger and better things. I was so touched when some students in my “Olympic English” club (thus called because it is my most challenging class) gave me a mug with pictures of their favorite moments on it. Here’s to hoping that next year’s crop of seniors live up to these last ones!

Your students might like you but do they put-your-face-in-a-heart-on-a-mug like you? I smile at this mug every morning.

One thought on “Graduates

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