Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Six Degrees of Separation

Today we met with U.S. Ambassador Mark Minton and Mr. Dan Nadel, a Presidential Management Fellow working at the Embassy. Turns out Ambassador Minton used to work with our former Board Chair, Phyllis Oakley and Dan is originally from Queens, NY. Oh the small world we live in!

From there we had additional media interviews….apparently when Jagga, the media advisor at UNFPA Mongolia, arrived at work this morning, her phone was ringing off the hook from a variety of media asking why they had not been able to interview Anika or Dr. Munkhuu. I know a segment ran again on tonight's 8pm news because a friend of Dr. Munkhuu's called her during dinner to say congratulations..she just heard the good news on the news.

Our evening tonight with Dr. Munkhuu's family was unforgettable. Dr. Munkhuu hosted a lovely dinner at the Mongol Hotel—which is a must see location that takes you back to Genghis times in its historic scenic step back in time. We met almost all of Dr. Munkhuu's children, grandchildren, and even a great grand child, and had a wonderful celebration in her honor. We also celebrated Susie Smith's birthday—Susie if you remember is the Peace Corp Volunteer who met me at the airport and also played a significant role in organizing our trip logistics. BTW Susie's heading back to the U.S. this fall and will be entering a job search…did I mention she's personable, professional, a great organizer, culturally sensitive, speaks a bit of French, Spanish, English and Mongolian, and has her Masters in…something. She'll be heading home to Denver, Colorado but will go where the wind takes her when she begins her job search. (Ahh, the glory of networking)

After dinner we made a quick stop at Strings, a "club/lounge" where a band from the Philippines, "Midnight Shift" was playing. Delia is originally from the Phillipines and it was our last chance to chat with her before we leave. She'll be on mission when we return from Kharkhorin. We caught part of the first set, classic American favorites like "Africa" and they sang happy birthday to Susie. We promised to stay for one or two songs as they transitioned into a more dancing set.

In the spirit of the small world we live in, I'll share the following: I accepted an invitation to dance with a friend of the Band, also from the Philippines. We started out Swing dancing (I don't swing, but thankfully my red polka dot dress at least twirled a bit) and quickly I was safe as the song shifted to salsa. Anyway, I explained that we were in town from the U.S., he said he thought India..I explained that my parents are from Sri Lanka…and in "classic Angie style" he used to live in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I didn't get a chance to hear much more, because I was pretty tired and we needed to head back to the hotel and I needed to blog! : ) Delia by the way can tear up a dance floor!

Hopefully, you all are enjoying the blog and living the experience vicariously. Though sleep is hands down one of my favorite hobbies I'm cool with sacrificing it now and again for the greater good. And what greater good than taking the opportunity to share with the world my experience with Mongolia (my first UNFPA field visit), my deep respect for Dr. Munkhuu and my thanks to UNFPA and Americans for UNFPA for allowing me to witness this important work.

Tomorrow morning we head to Tuv aimag to see a mobile clinic and then will visit Kharkhorin soun, the ancient capital of Mongolia. We'll be staying in a Ger in the middle of a remote area so there will be no entry until Friday at earliest.

Ok so I went a little over half an hour…but not too far…I'm a fast typer. Really.

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