Mongolia Adopts Daylight Saving Time (Again)

Just when I thought I had gotten to a country where I wouldn’t have to deal with changing all the clocks twice a year, the Mongolian government decided just a few weeks ago to adopt daylight saving time (DST).

So, a simplified history of DST in Mongolia:

First they didn’t have it.

Then they did (1960, and changing the time frame in 1985).

Then they didn’t (1999).

Then they did (2001).

Then they didn’t (2005).

Now they do.

At least some people are already on top of things and have changed the map on Wikipedia that shows which countries observe DST (blue), formerly observed DST (orange), and never observed DST (red):

Mongolia would be the big blue patch in the sea of orange that is the rest of Asia ("DaylightSaving-World-Subdivisions" by Paul Eggert - based on Image:BlankMap-World-Subdivisions.PNG, plus the data in the tz database, plus data in the maps on the INMS's Time Zones & Daylight Saving Time page.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DaylightSaving-World-Subdivisions.png#/media/File:DaylightSaving-World-Subdivisions.png)

Mongolia would be the big blue patch in the sea of orange that is the rest of Asia (“DaylightSaving-World-Subdivisions” by Paul Eggert – based on Image:BlankMap-World-Subdivisions.PNG, plus the data in the tz database, plus data in the maps on the INMS’s Time Zones & Daylight Saving Time page.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DaylightSaving-World-Subdivisions.png#/media/File:DaylightSaving-World-Subdivisions.png)

To complicate things, a huge number of people weren’t even aware that the government had decided to begin DST again, so many people didn’t change their clocks. After all, they don’t have the luxury(?) of being used to changing them twice a year. The time change was officially at 2am on Saturday, March 28, but those who weren’t aware of it (read: the vast majority of the parents of our students at the Bookbridge center) showed up an hour late to whatever they had going on. I knew many people would either forget or weren’t aware at all about the time change, so I posted in the Facebook group we made for our adult beginner’s English class to remind them so that they wouldn’t be late for the class I taught yesterday, but we don’t have a way to contact all the middle and high school students who come to our Bookbridge English classes. But hopefully everyone will be on the same page by Monday so I’m not the only one showing up to work on time.

And of course Mongolia’s DST doesn’t correspond with America’s, making it even more difficult to keep track of how many hours ahead I am of my family back home. When I first came to Mongolia, it was DST in America, and I was 12 hours ahead of my family on the east coast. But then when DST ended, I was 13 hours ahead. Then of course daylight saving started again in the US earlier in March. Back to 12 hours. And now daylight saving has started up in Mongolia, bringing it back to 13 hours. And of course DST ends at different times in each country as well (September in Mongolia, November in the US), so I get to deal with it even more in fall!

Maybe I’ll just bookmark this handy little web page that lets me know the official time here in the UB time zone and when the DST changes are for the next few years (unless, of course, the government decides to ditch it again).

Final Center Days and Site Announcements

Sunday, August 10 was the beginning of Final Center Days, our last group training before becoming official Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs). It was very sad to pack up everything in my room and leave my host family, and it was made worse when I got really sick the night before and barely got any sleep because I had to keep getting out of bed to barf my guts out. I was still sick in the morning, so my goodbyes to my host family were quite interesting. All of us in Dereven were supposed to meet at the school with all our luggage and take meekers over to the good old Darkhan Hotel, but because the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) had told me she wanted me to lay down and get some rest as quickly as possible and not wait around for the bumpy meeker ride, my host mom just drove me over to the hotel herself (granted, it’s only like a 10-minute drive, unlike the other groups of PCTs who were coming from much farther away). So I checked into the hotel while one of the current PCVs in charge of Final Center Days recruited some big strapping guys to help my mom carry all my luggage upstairs (of course my room was on the fourth floor of a hotel whose elevator doesn’t work). Then I took a much-needed nap, missing the first day’s sessions (which I was told were absolutely riveting).

I did want to go to Site Announcements though, where they would finally reveal where we would each be living and working for the next two years. It was later that afternoon, and since I was feeling a little better, the PCMO said I could go. But she didn’t want me walking all the way to the park where it was being held, so I got a ride in one of the Peace Corps cars with one of their drivers. At the park, we all gathered around a giant map of Mongolia, going insane with anticipation.

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Aimag by aimag, current PCVs announced the PCTs who had been placed in the aimag center and soums. As names were announced, each person received a packet of information about their site, host country agency (HCA), and housing. Then they went over to an even bigger “map” of Mongolia that was made out of concrete lines representing the aimag borders and statues representing each aimag center.

You can't really tell, but we're standing in a giant map of Mongolia

You can’t really tell, but we’re standing in a giant map of Mongolia

As I briefly mentioned in an earlier post, I was placed at the Health Department in Uliastai, the aimag center of Zavkhan province. I am the first Health PCV to be placed in Zavkhan, and apparently the Health Department has been hoping to have a Volunteer for a while now. There are already three M24s in Zavkhan, two of which are also in Uliastai. In addition to myself, four other M25s were placed in Zavkhan (all TEFL Volunteers), three of which are joining me in Uliastai.

I will talk more about Uliastai and Zavkhan in an upcoming post, so for now, back to Final Center Days.

The next two days consisted of more sessions and trainings. But on Wednesday, we got to meet our supervisors from our HCAs (or some other representative of our HCA), who had come in for a Supervisors Conference to learn how to work with PCVs/Americans.

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We all gathered in the gym of a local school, and PC staff one by one announced our names and our HCA, at which point we had to go forward and meet our supervisor for the first time. The director of my health department had come, even though he is not my actual “supervisor” and I won’t be working with him directly very much. Then we had an extremely awkward hour to talk with our supervisors, but luckily my director speaks a fair amount of English. The directors of the schools where the other Zavkhan PCTs will be working also all know each other, so at least we could all awkwardly stand in a circle together. For the rest of that day and the next day, we had some sessions with our supervisors and had to eat lunch with them at the Darkhan Hotel.

Then on Friday, all of us PCTs, our supervisors, and PC staff got onto buses to head to Ulaanbaatar for the Swearing-In Ceremony (to be discussed in the next post).