Buryatia School – Engorboy

Engorboy was only 800 inhabitants, there were no asphalted roads. The village size was more of less the same as Mikhaylovka. Besides the many cows there were also some pigs and horses in the streets. Finally there I had my long running question answered. We were at 1200m above sea level. At our presentation outside the school building with several of the teachers and students, some teachers knew the answer. The sun strikes strong that high and we felt it during those 10 days.

Engorboy had a small centre where the shop, post office, club, library and school were seated around. The shop had few less items than in Mikhaylvoka but more drunk people at the door hoping for bottles of vodka to fall down from the sky. The club and library were in the same style but smaller.

The school, quite old, all wood, was divided in three buildings. It was being fully repainted – chairs, tables, walls, cupboards, floors – as full maintenance of the ensemble. It remembered me of the lighthouses in Portugal. Again it was a school for 6 to 18, where table sizes had to fit all and seemed a bit small for an adult. They had, like in Mikhaylovka, computer and two projectors – one they asked me to diagnose why it did not work. They also had a gym with some basketball baskets and gymnastics material.

The houses were pretty much the same but the gardens were bigger and on each one there was a water pump making less but more frequent the work of getting the water (smaller buckets used).

We were this time living with Ayuna and her grand-mother in a single room, only with small hide-outs around the winter stove. The toilet in this house was further away and the grand-mother as well as the grand-sons living there were peeing just in the garden, not to walk all the way to the hole.

Engorboy was a fully Buryatia people village and people would speak Buryatia language (similar to Mongol) among them. Kids were learning Russian only at school. Ayuna grand-mother was not speaking Russian at all making communication even more difficult.

The mean of transport to go to surrounding fields was horse. There was also a river where I swim once but the water seemed colder than in the other village.

No particular differences in the Sur-Harban festival, just added a disorganized 100 meter race where I participated and was 6 or 7th among 30 (I was representing “my” street).

Because of the school painting and no help of the local administration the first day of school was held half inside half outside (aerobics). We presented ourselves with some history background, then Kate gave an English class and I gave a internet/email class. No kid had email neither notion of the usefullness of internet except that they could chat and play games. The internet was painfully slow (satellite+modem I think), the room was hot and the kids less interested to learn than touching a computer. The class was quite bad. On the second day it was raining and it was after the drunks at night story, so environment was not good. We met few kids at entrance of a school building and Ayuna wanted to give class there, on the edge of the rain. Kids found that we could go to the canteen that they were going to paint. Small english and other languanges classes with not so much attentive kids before that the smell of painting was too strong. We had no place to go, no alternative was proposed but Ayuna wanted to continue. I was tired and out of the game. We get to agree for the library to be open for us the next day (again, help of the kids) and we went all, kids and us, to Ayuna’s grand-mother house. She knew it was necessary to discuss among us but she wanted the kids to have more school. We set 20:30 as limit to end the school that day. After we discussed and was clear we had to finish the school earlier, there were no conditions (logistical and mental) to continue. Next day we still had classes in the library – english with drawing; health for alcohol prevention but kids were to young to understand; aerobics/judo and journalist where the kids where completely uninterested to learn. The weather was perfect and we still went by the river.

The day after at 6am we were leaving Engorboy in direction of Ulan-Ude with the local “Schumacher”, a crazy driver, for 7hours.