As my school’s very first TEFL volunteer, some ideas are considered to be too radical. Met with indifference or confusion that later get swept away under the rug.
As my second (and last year) was starting in Mongolia, I thought how I wanted to do something at my school so I could end my year with a bang. A high note knowing I’ve accomplished something different and new.
With the help of one counterpart, Adiya, we organized and prepared a weekend-long Girls Empowerment workshop/camp/training/call it what you will that occurred on March 13-15. The second semester of school in Mongolia is thwarted with many long breaks – winter break in January, Tsaagan Sar break in February, and a Spring break in March. Suffice it to say…time was running out and I knew I had to begin early.
Powerpoints and worksheets had to be translated into Mongolian, subtitles added to videos, activities had to be thought of, and what type of topics to be covered during the weekend. I then turned into a part-time health volunteer when an 11th grader said: “We are told we should do something but not told the importance of why we should be doing it.” Thus health was included into the schedule.
What impressed me the most throughout the weekend was the amount of English the girls wanted to use despite the difficulty. They were free to discuss amongst themselves in Mongolian and write in Mongolian but they all wanted to speak and write in English.
Some of the topics and activities we did from Friday to Sunday, 10 AM to 4:30 PM:
Girls learnt about Mongolian and foreign role models. Malala Yousafazai was very popular.
The girls learnt about non-profit organizations and in teams created their own non-profit. The winning team was about human rights while the runner-up was about an environmental issue.
After kicking out the boys who were playing basketball, we did yoga in the gym. For most of them, this was their first time ever doing yoga. Lots of giggles erupted when we were in happy baby pose.
An art project. Girls drew and painted themselves after describing themselves with adjectives and connecting those adjectives to specific colors.
In addition, we talked about the importance of goal setting, stereotypes, leadership qualities, and created bucket lists. An 8th grader said she wanted to visit Genovia and was sad when I told her the country doesn’t exist. While all the girls said they want to travel to another country, goals ranged from the lofty to the simplistic. Having purple hair, wanting to meet Emma Watson, becoming a doctor, learning how to swim and to wanting to walk through a haunted house during Halloween.
This weekend wouldn’t have happened without the incredible help of Adiya. She met with me every week, helped make applications, and did her best to understand everything. As a result, the entire weekend went smoothly and I went home happy.
However, not all projects will have so much preparation time like mine did. You have to judge your school’s vibe. Either you are a very busy PCV or you fall into the same hole as me and your school doesn’t utilize you enough. As a result, I had plenty of time to bring this weekend with Adiya to fruition.