Monday, August 11, 2008
Briefing from the VSO
At home in the Soviet style apartment block
Our first day was spent at the VSO HQ in downtown Ulanbataar. The Country Director, Alison, gave us an overview of the political situation in Mongolia. There were fairly serious riots in early July, brought on by political discontent. However the trouble seems to have subsided for the moment, so we are expecting a peaceful few weeks.
Most volunteers spend their first four weeks getting an overview. It includes training on language, learning about the country and the specific areas of work. Ours was concentrated into just a day. We received a health and safety briefing, a security briefing, a briefing on the culture and beliefs (did you know for instance that if a Mongolian baby urinates on you then your or your wife is likely to become pregnant?).
We also received a briefing on our specific placements. I will be working in north inner Ulanabatter on issues in relation to the financial management of a health district.
Our final briefing was on matters related to life in the capital, and it covered stuff like transport, shopping and where to eat.
A very intensive day, but I came away with a clearer picture of what the next three weeks were going to be about.