Heading for home
Well, my journey is almost over: I head for home early tomorrow morning. Another 13.5 hours to Toronto, then from there to Ottawa. It’s hard to believe that it is just over a week since I arrived in Mongolia. I have seen and heard and learned and experienced so much in that very short time that it feels like a lot longer. I think that’s even more true for the coaches, who were in Mongolia for two full weeks.
We had our final debriefing session today, and I now understand CCA’s decision to hold the meeting in Seoul rather than in Ulaanbaatar. Being here has given us a bit of distance, an opportunity to detatch ourselves from the Mongolia experience, at least a little. The coaches summarized their thoughts about the mission, the coaching program, and the future of credit unions in Mongolia. In the afternoon, we talked about how they will tell their stories upon their return, since coaching volunteers are required to make presentations when they get home. It was an excellent meeting, and a very good way of wrapping up the mission.
After the meeting, we had a group dinner in a typical Korean BBQ restaurant, which was wonderful. You take off your shoes and sit cross-legged around a low table with a grill in the middle. The server brings the raw meat — beef and pork, in our case — and cooks it on the grill. You wrap the cooked meat — with such condiments and side dishes as chili paste, kimchee (Korean pickled cabbage), garlic, mushrooms, and seaweed — in a lettuce leaf and eat it with your hands. Think Oriental fajitas. There was something particularly appropriate about the communal nature of our last meal together — the Mongolia mission was a shared experience, and it has ended with a shared dinner. We drank lots of light, fizzy Korean beer (luckily, not vodka!), told lots of stories, and laughed a great deal.
After dinner, we walked through Seoul’s bustling entertainment district and found a karaoke bar. For a small cost, we got a karaoke room all to ourselves, and spent several hours singing everything from A Hard Day’s Night to I Will Survive to the very timely and appropriate Leaving on a Jet Plane.