July 11, 2012

Back in the US of A

Hello all. I hope this finds you well. Less than a week ago, after a long 38 hours of travel time, I arrived  in Kansas City, MO where my mother and brothers live. Essentially, I've been gone for 4 years and therefore, doesn't really seem like my town any more. More like I'm a visitor. But that's okay. Even as a visitor, it is great to see my family, see old friends and enjoy different "everything" - food, weather, attitudes, shops, libraries, bike paths, etc.

The Kansas City skyline
You might think this post will be a "reflection" of my 4th year in Mongolia teaching English. And while I think there is great value in reflection, especially if the future looks a little hazy, today's post is all about the future. Yes, I will be returning to Mongolia, all things willing. Mongolia and the Mongolian people definitely have a chunk of my heart and I can't "not" go back.

Medical English

With both my background as a Physical Therapist Assistant, with 13 years experience working in hospitals and nursing homes, combined with my 4 years of teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) give me a unique set of qualifications in the area of Medical English.

I have always been struck by the "thirst" for knowledge of those in my ESL classes who are also medical students. And even physicians, with there busy schedules, do their best to attend classes. But medical students get swamped with their coursework and doctors just don't have time to attend a scheduled class. But when I talk to other physicians, they tell me that Mongolia's health care education is at least 50 years behind the west.

How to make up that difference? Many medical students and doctors dream of studying in the west but for many, that isn't a practical solution. But through the power of the internet, there is an immense amount of material health care providers could access immediately if they spoke not only English, but medical English.

I think most people will agree that when they discuss something with their doctor, it seems they are talking another language - and they are. Every profession has it's own subset of the English language that to those outside that profession sounds very much like a foreign language.

So, in the next 5-6 months, I will begin to put together an entire "medical English" curriculum, that can be accessed online, freeing medical students and doctors from any set schedule. And from "beginner" level to the highest "specialty" topics, it will be entirely in medical English.

I will look to many health care providers and universities in the Kansas City area to partner with me in this endeavor, especially in the area of training videos - from nurses aide to neurosurgeon. In this way, not only do Mongolian medical students and doctors improve their medical English, but also learn the modern hands-on techniques practiced in hospitals today.

Upon returning to Mongolia, I want to work with the health care community in making this medical English accessible to any who want to learn, and hopefully continue to expand it's scope and breath of materials. Plus, it is my dream to tour every part of Mongolia to give personalized "medical English" seminars to hospitals and universities throughout the countryside.

For just a taste, check out: Medical.Anglihel.com or on Facebook

Sound like a great idea! If you're a doctor, nurse, dentist or medical student, and would like to help, please contact me at the email above or on our Facebook page. Thanks.

Anglihel.com

Even though I won't be teaching this fall semester, I will continue to add and update my English students website called Anglihel.com - which had 1600 page views in May. But I am excited to add something new, especially for beginners.

Working with one of my former students, we will post "Beginner" lessons on the website, complete with videos, MP3s, handouts, written explanations, and even quizzes. I believe there are many, because of work or family obligations, just are not able to commit to attending an English course. This way they can study at their own pace in their home when they have time.

I'll continue to post regular updates on our movie vocabulary, news items especially about Mongolia, music lyrics and anything else I find useful.

Mongolian Language

On my way back to the US, I had an opportunity to travel with Travis, former Mongolia Peace Corps volunteer who runs his own Advance Humanity organization, about my future plans. What dawned on me is the immense responsibility I was expecting the medical students and doctors to learn English for their profession in order to better the health of their countrymen. But I hadn't done the same thing, learning Mongolian, to better serve the students I was teaching these last four years.

So, because I know it will help me a lot in teaching the even more difficult subject of Medical English, I will be putting in extra effort to learn Mongolian. And for that, I am very fortunate to have met Battsetseg, a Mongolian Language professor at Kansas University, who teaches as part of the Asian Studies program. She has agreed to help me how ever she can in order to improve my Mongolian language proficiency.

Health

Many of know I had a huge transformational period the last time I was back in KC, loosing 40 pounds in a little less than 3 months. Sadly, due mostly to a lot of work stress in Mongolia, I gained over half of that back. Again, I am committed to a healthier lifestyle. I can only help others as long as I take care of myself.

On a plus side, I have a longer period in which to solidify good health habits, both physically and mentally. And I think I have a better idea that I need to prepare myself more for those stresses that life seems always to throw at you when you are doing something worthwhile.

So, I started running again several weeks ago before leaving Ulaanbaatar and if all goes well with my training, I hope to run in the Kansas City Marathon on October 20th. You can see from the countdown timer at the top of my page exactly how much time I have yet to prepare. If that gets to ambitious, I will change to running the the Gobbler Grind Marathon on November 18th.

And I will be continuing my bodyweight exercises along with more time spent meditating too.

The future looks bright

I'm sure there is a lot more I could write, but I'll have to save that for another day. To all my friends and family in KC, I hope to see all of you soon and often. And to those friends I left back in Mongolia, you are always in my thoughts and I hope to return as soon as possible.