November 14, 2008

11/14/08 Change is Difficult

With the help of modern technology and my good friend Jesse, I was able to 'attend' a gathering of old friends (from grade school and high school) in Kansas City via Skype video on Saturday night even though it was Sunday morning here in UB. I was able to listen to the band and see everyone there. Many stopped by the computer to use texting in order to communicate as the band was a bit loud. [smile] It was great to connect again with Jesse, Joanne, Connie, Jimmy, Chris and my new friend Katie, Chris's 10-year-old daughter. Even Ani Diki came by and said hello to Katie. And later I took the webcam down to the Stupa Cafe where Lidia and Hanna, Esther's two little girls who are frequent visitors to the Stupa Cafe when they are in UB, were able to see others in America. I think we were online for almost 3 hours, all with the help of free Skype-to-Skype video. Many thanks go out to Jesse.

Had a rough week but it wasn't with my classes. Being the new guy from a different culture in such a small group of people, it is sometimes difficult to know how to suggest changes. After two months, I thought I had a good idea about the inner workings of the department but maybe I was a little weak on knowing the people themselves. It just goes to show that even in a Buddhist center there can be conflicts by the simple fact that everyone is human, even Buddhists. On the upside I think there are better channels of communication open that we didn't realize were closed and I'll be working more closely with Tsetsgee. We'll spend more time working together as a department, but we will also do a language exchange where she teaches me Mongolian and I will help her improve her English fluency. The downside is that I just won't have time to teach at Dolma Ling. Of everything I've been doing, teaching the kids and staff at Community Center was the hightlight of my week. I told the staff but couldn't let the kids down so I didn't tell them I wouldn't be back. I am hoping I can officially schedule time out there again starting next term in January. The video below is just another example of why I love the kids so much.

Just a little Mongolian Rap

One of the new things we started last night at Buddhist Center is a twice-a-month English Movie Night at the Stupa Cafe. The idea is to give anyone the chance to improve their English by offering activities such as showing movies that are in English. The movie we chose was called "The Cup". Only it was in Tibetan but it had English subtitles. About 25 people came which was a surprise because we didn't get much chance to advertise and the fact that it started pretty late (the local buses stop running after 8pm). As with all new ventures we had a few technical difficulties but it all worked out and I know our next showing in two weeks will be much improved.

Even thought this blog is published on Friday nights, it's actually Saturday morning here in UB when I finish writing it. Even though it was a chilly -7 degrees Fahrenheit, the city was rewarded with clear skies and a dusting of snow. Very easy to enjoy in my warm room but I will have to bundle up pretty well if I go out for lunch. Spending most of the weekend moving my 'office' out of my bedroom and into the translation department and then grading exams. Yippie!!!