Since November, life has been really busy! I want to talk to you about the glorious holiday of Шинэ жил (Shin Jil) or New Year. This is the Mongolian version of Christmas. It occurs on December 31 or January 1 ......I am still not sure exactly which one. Anyway........it is very similar to an American Christmas. All around UB plastic trees were bedecked with lights, ornaments and a lot of tinsel and glitter. It was an awesome sight to behold! There are also many Mongolian Santa Clauses looming around every corner. Like America, some look "normal" and some look like pedophiles. Hit or miss!
Every organization and university has its own Shin Jil party. Some universities have two.....one for the students and one for the teachers. The one for the Gazarchin Students occurred on December 15. Our student council planned the entire event. It was held at a night club behind Sukhbaatar Square. There was an entry tax of 16,000 tugriks but I somehow managed to avoid that. I knew that people really dressed up for Shin Jil but I had NO idea how serious it was until I got there.
All the men wore well-pressed and very shiny suits. They were all very slim fitting and looked quite nice! The women......went to town! It was like prom times 100. They wore very formal gowns and their hair was curled and held with at least 3 bottles of hairspray per person! Let's also take a moment and talk about the glitter. They effing love it and cannot get enough of it! I saw more glitter at this one event than I have ever seen at any gay bar or drag show.....EVER! It was everywhere.......in their hair.......on their bodies and it seemed like it was falling from the sky. I was in heaven!
The party started with some Mongolian waltzing....which, for the life of me, I cannot do! There was a large champagne toast and then some dancing. Mongolian club dancing is interesting. In this case, all the students and teachers got into two big circles and took turns going in to the middle to show off their moves. My kind of dancing is what I call the 80's sway. You only move from the hips up and just kind of sway back and forth. This allows you to hold on to, and drink, a beverage of your choice. This also allows me to not burn any precious calories and I can still enjoy my soda. Eventually a few students caught on and asked me if that is how all Americans dance. I didn't want to seem like a loser so I said "yes." Then they started 80's swaying. Watch out Mongolia......the 80's sway is comin' back!
After the dancing, it was time for the awards! Our school's director got up on stage, along with our training manager, and passed out awards to senior students who excelled the most. I was called on stage to join the two of them and congratulate the scholars. I kindly shook all of their hands and said congratulations in Mongolian....or at least I hope that is what I said. The next thing I know, a microphone is put in my face and I am told to speak....in Mongolian. Shit! Didn't they remember what a shit show that was last time?!
So I said that I was very happy to be a teacher at Gazarchin and all the students made me happy. I wished them a happy New Year and best of luck on their final exams. They kindly clapped and I scissor-kicked my way off stage......just to show that I knew one dance move.
After the awards, the night was capped off with more circle dancing (read: 80's swaying) and champagne was consumed. This put me in the holiday mood. I was ready for any Mongolian Santa and prepared to give an amazing speech in Mongolian at any time!
|Me and Byamba, a first-year student. Notice her awesome glittter!!|
|My third year students and me getting ready to 80's sway!|