Little boys and girls dressed in traditional clothing perform Mongolian dances. I didn’t realize how diverse Mongolian clothing is. There are plenty of patterns, hats, and textiles!

Children waiting to perform traditional Mongolian dance. This is where I met Gladys the Dog.

Children waiting to perform traditional Mongolian dance.

There are also performances by teens and adults. One of those included dancers both in wheelchairs and on their own legs.I really enjoy these performances, since it’s fun to watch everyone having a good time (or being nervous).

Wheelchair dance performance Mongolia

Wheelchair dance performance

I move around the room looking at the art projects on display. That’s when I notice the golden Labrador stretching her body until her nose reaches my legs.

Gladys the Dog

I’m sure Gladys the Dog smells my dog on my shoes. My dog is currently on her own mini-vacation, in Gladys’ homeland of California. This is how I meet two U.S. embassy employees—an American and a Mongolian, whose dress I’m jealous of, since she seems cool and fresh, as compared to my sweaty self in jeans and t-shirt.

The Mongolian woman and I chat, and I find out that she was a Fulbright scholar at Louisiana State University in the United States. She’s blind, and at the end of her studies traveled to San Rafael, California for training on working with her new seeing eye dog – Gladys.

Gladys the Dog is such a sweetie, letting me pet her after I ask permission from her owner. Just like other service dogs I’ve met, I’m told that Gladys loves the cinema, because of all the popcorn treats available on the floor.

Note: I’ve actually seen the high pink stucco walls that surround the San Rafael guide dog training compound since it is directly across the street from a (now deceased) relatives’ retirement home. This was a fun connection to make, and I felt happy on my first full day in a country that is brand new to me!

 

USA Embassy Security in Mongolia in 2014

Mongolia’s U.S. embassy: due to the Benghazi incident, since 2013 Marines guard the building. Mongolia is a ‘hardship’ country for the United States Foreign Service, so assignments are 2 years, but Americans can extend for a 3rd year. I wonder if some of Mongolia’s hardships are the minus 40°F (-40°C) winters and terrible pollution in UB.

 

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