Food, Fun and Costumes: International day in Mongolia

It is international week here at ISU. You may be wondering why I bring this up. I will answer. 200 kids from 29 countries? What is more fun than that? And two, I was on the committee that organized it so feel the need to spread the love to all you people who have nothing better to do than to read about the minutia of my day. Oh, the power!... Wait don’t stop reading… I’ll be good. 

Anyhow, Tuesday was host country Day. This of course meant that it was Mongolian Day. Why we couldn’t just call it Mongolian Day I am still confused about. The main point was to dress up. The Mongolian national costumes are intricate and fun to wear and everyone has one! Even me! Well, sort of. My friend Ariuna was nice enough to lend me one. I am going to buy one at some point I just want to take my time with that sort of purchase. I could be wearing it two or three times a year you know! 

All the kids turned up in “deels” (pronounced like Dell, the computer company). The deel is the Monglian traditional costume. It is actually not uncommon to see elderly people walking around the city wearing them. I haven’t gotten the nerve to take a picture yet. It just seems so rude. Maybe later when my Mongolian is less pathetic. It is a long, loose gown cut in one piece with the sleeves; it has a high collar and overlaps at the front. Once on it has to be folded like an origami masterpiece and belted by someone with a degree from MIT. I imagine that people get into the alone all the time but I am destined not to be one of them. They always close on the wearer's right, and traditionally have five fastenings. Modern deels often have decoratively cut overflaps, and sometimes (like the one that I was wearing) have a Mandarin collar. Apparently, the whole point of the deel was it’s functionality. It protected against cold and wind, the sleeves are traditionally very long to serve as gloves if necessary. The sash (I am told) serves as a corset which protect the wearer against shaking during fast horse riding. No, I am not making this stuff up! The third grade girls sang and did a Mongolian dance as well. Seriously cute.

Thursday night was the international food fair. This is certainly the place to have one! Basically, you bring enough food for ten people and eat yourself sick. There is a huge population of Koreans going to our school and they definitely know how to cook! Not to mention food from over thirty different countries. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (thank you to everyone who voted). A little pathetic yes, but in a country where I have to go to a specialty store to get the sliced bread, peanut butter, and jelly (I found Welch’s!) it has to be exotic, right? There wasn’t any left over and someone took my plate home so I am going to assume that that is a good thing. 

Friday was the parade of nations. The whole process of getting the kids were they were supposed to be was of course wild. I don’t care how good kids are normally in situation like this I always feel a bit like a lion tamer, only without the whip and chair. “Back, Back!” Everyone was in their national costumes and I have to say that it was very impressive. Although, I gather that American’s and Canadians are countries full of hobo’s as that is what we look like in our “national dress”. I suppose that is what you get from a land of immigrants. I actually ended up “being from” New Zealand and there was only one first grade girl and she didn’t want to get up alone to say hello. It will probably take until next year before most of the secondary students figure out that I am really American. Everyone said hello in their native languages and then we had some great cultural performances. I especially liked the ninth graders fashion show and the dancing from the girls from India. There is no room for bland here, which is certainly one of the best parts about teaching in International Schools! 

So that was my week. Food, Fun and Costumes… why don’t we do this all the time?