Indigenous People’s Day

There is a very large Native American presence here in Arizona, so it was no surprise to hear that Phoenix is the largest US city that observes Indigenous People’s Day in place of Columbus Day (this year, October 10th), which was first celebrated in Colorado in 1909. There has been a popular movement in recent […]

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First Day of School

September first is a national holiday in Mongolia: It commemorates the first day of school for children across the nation. Everyone gets dressed up, comes to school with their parents, and meets their teachers in order to usher in the new academic year. If it falls on the weekend, everyone still meets. This year, it […]

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The History Room

At most schools in Mongolia, I am told, there is a very special room that holds in it the history of the school. Inside they host an array of artifacts: Trophies earned, medals won, citations garnered, newspaper reports, and so forth. Last December, I was introduced to this room by my supervisor. We were having […]

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The Year of The Snake

The Lunar New Year, in case you were unaware, is a big deal in Asia. Huge. In Mongolia, it is a particularly big deal. In the days leading up to the first night of Tsagaan Sar, or White Month, or Lunar New Year, you will see frantic housewives cleaning their homes, top to bottom. You […]

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Mongolian New Year’s

There are some interesting parallels between how Mongolians celebrate the New Year and how most in the “West” celebrate Christmas. There are trees all over the city. There are trees in each of my schools. All of them are decorated with ornaments, lights, and tinsel. I never really received a straightforward answer as to why […]

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The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t

“You can’t have a Halloween party. A few years ago, a girl in UB, she died. From being shocked. I think Mongolians cannot handle this holiday.” Words that, in retrospect, sound like they came from someone who had only read about Mongolia, and never experienced it. Mongolians have taken to Halloween. It comes naturally. Interest […]

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First Hair Cutting Ceremony

I was sitting in my apartment when my co-worker called me. “I need a stove shelf,” she informed me. I was confused, so I told her to come over. It turns out she wanted one of my baking racks. She told me that today would be her daughter’s hair cutting ceremony. I had heard stories […]

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