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Team building in Bayanchandmani - 17 September 2007

All the Baringiin Technologiin Kolleg staff participating in the excursion, about thirty in total, were presented on departure from the college with branded Northface jackets, and we travelled by bus about 70km north to a summer mountain camp, in time to slaughter a sheep for dinner.

When one of the teams had taken their turn to prepare the first dinner we sat at tables in a mess building and there was more drinking of airag (kumiss), vodka and beer in readiness for the meal and many courses, all mutton based, followed by speeches, dancing and song singing.

When requested after dinner I was able to convey via the College Director (a German speaker) that I had found the shared meal and games an excellent way to get to know everyone teaching at the College. I continued during Saturday and Sunday to participate in eating, drinking, wrestling, football, walking and singing, which despite bruising, was really a good way to learn something about each staff member, from young Mongolian language teachers to elderly professors.

On Sunday my own team started at breakfast time preparing xyshuur (the local pasty-like specialty) from first principles, cutting meat into tiny pieces from every bone and using every organ of the sheep (and practicing my rudimentary Mongolian).

Towards leaving, after an altercation with the camp owner about the rubbish pile created, combustible waste was removed and the bottles were left in a pile for a recycler to collect. The departing bus waited as someone ran back to fetch the fleeces to sell for a few pounds each.

I felt I had been properly introduced to Mongolian colleagues' lives and interests and that despite many language and cultural differences, I had found some rapport with each one. I begin officially on the 24th after my fifth week of Mongolian language education.

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