Monday, October 6, 2014

Raising money to combat child sex trafficking

“Child trafficking isn't just a cause full of mind numbing stats. It’s about someone’s SON or DAUGHTER” – Rob Morris, Love146 Founder
I am helping to raise money to combat the 2nd largest illegal business in the world, sex and human trafficking. Please visit this website to learn more and to make a donation -

at donate.love146.org/marikaa



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

10 Things I Will Miss About Peace Corps Mongolia

1)   Epic ball gowns for New Years and insane amounts of glitter. Mongolians love love love glitter and anything flashy. I will miss these fun dresses. J
2)   Turning lemons into lemonade. Everyday that I have been in Mongolia I have been forced to adjust to new conditions. Living in a ger, not having running water, having electricity, not having electricity, not having internet…At times it has been difficult, but I have enjoyed it. When I finally learned how to build a fire in a matter of minutes it was incredibly rewarding. However, the most rewarding part is that after a short amount of time it all becomes normal. I knew that I had integrated into my community when friends and family back home would ask me what’s the craziest thing you’ve done!?!...and I really couldn’t think of anything. Eating sheep butt just didn’t seem that strange anymore…

3)   Celebrating American holidays in Mongolia. I’ve heard adults say that after they have children they learn to appreciate everything all over again because they are experiencing things for the first time through their children’s eyes. This is how I feel when I celebrate holidays in Mongolia. Watching my students celebrate Halloween for the first time ever was hilarious. With no costume shops anywhere in Bagakhangai I was really impressed by how creative they were with their costumes. 
4)  Random Mongolian signs. They never fail to amaze me. This sign was in a bathroom in UB. 
5)  Ridiculous student uniforms. Enough said…
6) Once a month “Africans in Mongolia” meetings. I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people from Cape Verde, Nigeria and Ghana. They all work in Mongolia. Although we come from completely different cultures, we have shared similar experiences in Mongolia. When Mongolians see us they don’t see Americans or Nigerians. They see Africans.

7) Watching Bagakhangai develop. Watching Bagakhangai develop has been the highlight of my service. Within the last year Bagakhangai has gotten its first trash cans, created the beautiful town square in the picture above, started daily exercise classes and built new roads. Although I didn’t initiate any of these things, it has been wonderful to observe. 
8) My Mongolian friends, family, and students. These are the people who have made my Peace Corps service a life-changing experience. I will forever be grateful to them. 
9) The Mongolian steppe. During the winter the steppe can be a bit of a curse. It is covered in snow from October to May. Everyday it is a reminder of the brutal unforgiving Mongolian winters. However, when the snow finally starts to melt and the grass begins to grow the steppe is very beautiful. In the summer it is covered with a carpet of green grass.
10) This crazy group of Peace Corps volunteers. I never thought that I would make life-long friends in Peace Corps. I always assumed that I would be in a small town hundreds of miles away from the next volunteer. Without the support of my fellow volunteers I probably would not have made it through training. The support that we give each other is invaluable. We only spend two years together, but the Peace Corps experience is so extreme and intense that friendships develop quickly. When I was sick to my stomach (the sickest I’ve ever been) my family and friends back home couldn’t really understand. My fellow Peace Corps volunteers did. When I was frustrated about something at site who did I call? My fellow volunteers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

PCPP Project Complete!!!

A huge thank you to all of you who donated!!! Construction of Bagakhangai Districts first English Language Learning Center is complete! 
The Cabinets Before 

The Wall before

Old Bookshelf 

Old Linoleum

Add caption



New Heater


Getting rid of the old linoleum


New Floor

Students Enjoying the new center



Our new Dell laptop!!!

New Bookshelves





Continuing our focus on geography

Thank you for your support!!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Peace Corps Mongolia




Peace Corps Mongolia’s annual report recently came out. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV’s) in Mongolia did a lot of great things last year. The report includes some remarkable statistics. Most volunteers will never see the fruits of their labor. Therefore it helps when reports like this put the work that has been done into perspective.

Peace Corps volunteers in Mongolia work in four sectors, Teaching English, Community Youth Development, Community-based Health, and Community Economic Development. Volunteers work all over this huge country in all 21 aimags (states). According to the report in 2012 PCV’s taught English to almost 15,800 secondary school students, 1,700 college and university students, and also trained 2,000 English teachers. Community and Economic Development Volunteers worked with more than 600 small businesses and Youth Development Volunteers reached over 10,000 youth. Health Volunteers reached 1,005 community adults, 2,400 adolescents and 804 children through trainings, sessions, HIV summer camps and health clubs.

Today 134 volunteers work throughout Mongolia. Over the last 22 years over 970 volunteers have served in Mongolia.  Peace Corps volunteers will continue to do great things in the future. I am so honored to be a part of this great group of people. Enjoy the pics below!!!




Friday, May 10, 2013

Funerals in Mongolia/ Buddhist Traditions

About seven weeks ago my co-workers mother passed away. I had the opportunity to attend a few of the ceremonies after the funeral. I found it quite interesting and thought I would share a few interesting facts here.

First, the family has a private funeral at the grave site. The deceased person is buried or cremated. During the funeral the family goes to a temple or the lama comes to the grave site and reads a prayer. After the main funeral the family invites friends and extended family to a tsagaalaga. (a get together to remember the person). All people that attend a Tsagaalga receive gifts. This is all at the expense of the family. Tsagaalga is not a sad occasion. Mongolians say that after the private funeral there is no crying. It is a time to enjoy life and the company of others. 

49 days after the person has passed another get-together takes place. Everyone eats and children receive gifts in memory of the deceased. Before the guests can leave each person must light a candle. Again, this is all that the expense of the family of the deceased. It can be quite expensive. 

The family asks a lama when they can visit the grave. Sometimes the lama will tell them that they can't visit the grave for another 10 years. This time is given to allow the deceased persons soul to reach a happy state. 

A Tsagaalga
Preparing the Candles 
Guests lighting candles 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The English Language Learning Center has been fully funded!

Great news!!! We have reached our goal! We raised $1,000 in just two weeks. Thank you so much for your contributions. I will keep you updated on the project! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

If your donation has not posted on the Peace Corps website do not worry. It takes three business days for all donations to post! Thank you. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Please Donate!

There is an anonymous donor who will donate $250.00 to match the first $250.00. Your donation will count for double!!! 

English Language Learning Center: Please Donate




My Mongolian counterparts and I are creating an English Language Learning Center in Bagkhangai, Mongolia. There is no location in this community for students to study English in a quiet place where English materials are readily available. It is vital that this rural community in Central Mongolia create a safe, quiet place with English resources where students can study and improve their English skills.

It will serve as place where students can go to read, do their homework and receive tutoring. This center will be available to over 400 students. This center will undoubtedly foster collaborative learning in this community of teachers and students and create an environment conducive to learning. Without your help, this kind of educational opportunity would be financially out of reach. 

At this time the center needs cabinets, new linoleum for the floor, a heater, paint and computer. Would you consider helping us this year with a contribution of $20 to make this center possible? Community members have raised a remarkable $1,126.05, 52% of the project cost, through cash and in kind donation and need assistance in raising the additional $1,000 from the Peace Corps Partnership Program. All donations are tax deductible.

If you can help then please visit the secure Peace Corps website link (see below) and make your contribution as soon as possible. We want to have all funding completed in two weeks so that we can finish construction before the end of the school year. Be sure to check the box on the website to share your name and address so we can send you an update after the project concludes.


Check out the photos of the area that will be renovated below. 




Monday, April 1, 2013

OneWorld Classrooms Global Art Exchange


My students recently participated in the Global Art Exchange. OneWorld Classrooms is an educational nonprofit based in Boston. OneWorld invites all schools and youth groups to participate in their K-12 Global Art Exchange. Since 2009, over 15,000 students from 54 countries have directly participated.

25 of my students created artwork that they felt represented Mongolia and mailed it to Boston. Their artwork will be considered for the OneWorld Boston 140 exhibition. Art from around the world will be displayed in schools throughout the Boston area. It is an excellent program. I attached a photo of each student to each piece of artwork in order to make the exchange more powerful. The students that receive my students artwork will be able to see a picture of the artist and read a summary of Mongolia, written by my students. The summary is below.

Mongolia is situated in Central Asia. Russia borders Mongolia to the north and China borders Mongolia to the South. It has a population of 2.7 million people. Mongolia has an extreme climate. It can get as cold as -50F. The capital of Mongolia is Ulaanbaatar. Mongolians speak Mongolian. Mongolia has 21 provinces. 1/3 of the population lives in the capital. Most Mongolians live in gers. A ger is a traditional Mongolian house. It is round and has a window at the top. The ger can be taken down in one hour. A ger is the perfect house for a Mongolian herder because they have to move often. The typical Mongolian diet consists of meat, potatoes, rice, bread and cheese products. Mongolians love to drink airag (horse milk) and milk tea. It provides them much needed nutrition during the cold winter months.

In about a month my students will receive 25 pieces of artwork created by students from a variety of world regions. The package will contain artwork from at least 6-12 different countries. This project is a great way for students to learn about global cultures. Check out my student’s artwork below.

If you would like to register go to http://www.oneworldclassrooms.org/programs/k12art/






Tuesday, March 19, 2013

World Map Project

For the last two weeks I have been working with my students on the World Map Project. The World Map Project promotes geography literacy and builds a sense of community. I have been able to get my students interested in geography, boosted their confidence, and improved their critical thinking skills.

We made our map by using an overhead projector and a single world map transparency. The Projection Method lets you trace a projected map image directly onto a wall. We painted our map with latex paint bought in the capital.

Afterwards we held a celebration to honor all those who helped with the map. During our party the students ate food from different countries and played games related to geography using the completed world map. 





tracing 

Painting 


Labeling 


The Finished Product