"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Thursday, June 07, 2007

hello, Mongolia!

sain baina uu!

that's "hello" in Mongolian. or "Сайн байна уу" to be truly authentic. (that's Cyrillic for those keeping track at home!)

i'll be in Mongolia in a matter of days, researching participatory education and its role in community-based conservation efforts in the Mongolian steppes.

when i first decided to do this, ppl kept asking me "why Mongolia?" and aside from a superficial knowledge of the nomadic lifestyle (which fascinates me, as someone studying communities, their formation and role in education) and what i'd been told about the conservation of their wild horses, i didn't really know...

but after some research, i'm getting pretty excited. Mongolia is one of the few countries that remains relatively un-modernized. and the Mongolia i'll see will be much more authentic than the experience of this travel blogger, who had this to say about Mongolian food:

"Many tourists seems to think they are somehow obliged to try local food to get a feel for the local ... food. I have only got two things to say: "you're not" and "don't"."

he instead recommends eating Marco Polo pizza at the Circus everyday, which is what he did. hm... somehow i think i'll fare much better. i'll be living out in the steppes (the grassland) in an authentic Mongolian ger, which are basically tents made of felt!
(that stuff on the roof is cheese made from goats' milk. notice the lack of trees and brush in the background. the desert steppes are fairly devoid of coverage. = makes for interesting (read: awkward) restroom breaks...)

and i'll be meeting and working with nomadic herders on local conservation efforts, particularly the projects to reintroduce the Wild Horses,
a.k.a. Przewalski’s horse (or takhi), these horses have struggled to survive, altogether disappearing from southern Russia and the edges of China, where they once roamed. there are only about 1500 worldwide, and mostly in Mongolia, where the herding lifestyle of the Mongolian ppl may have saved them.

and the Pallas Cat, endangered b/c efforts to control the erupting rodent population, which is stressing the already over-grazed grasslands, with rodenticide may cause inadvertent poisoning of the Cat population.
(aren't they cute?! they hide out in burrows (as pictured), which is how they catch their prey. we're not likely to see one in real life, but i've been training myself to look for the little tufts of white ear fur - the most we might hope to see. more info and another picture here.)

anyway, i have more research to do. this experience comes with a Course Reader that's dense at best, and a whole lotta packing to do. let's see if i can stuff all my belongings for an international adventure into just one rucksack and a purse and still manage to carry it onto the plane!


p.s. for a description of what i'm doing, see this.


Cybermon said...

that is good idea. the course in Mongolia. if you need any help from me. just tell to me. I am working at Mongolian Academy of Sciences. My e-mail is: gantulga@mas.ac.mn. Good luck,

stephan!e lee said...

cool! talk to you soon!