Setting the Scene
With three weeks to go until the province-wide music tournament (horsehead fiddle, dancing, singing, etc.), three groups of students were hard at work, practicing daily for hours. The three groups were split by grades: 4th and 5th grades, 7th and 8th grades, and 10th and 11th grades. Right away, the students were extremely friendly with students of all grades, giving piggyback rides, buying ice cream for one another, and calling each other “big brother” or “big sister”. I decided to document the practices and was then crowded by various groups of students asking to have their pictures taken. What started as a photo of the 11th graders ended up with not only 11th graders but also 7th, 8th, and 10th grade students.
It is inherent in Mongolian culture that younger children respect older children and older children treat younger children as their siblings, no matter if they are blood-related or not. While it probably helps that my school is small, so many of the young students are siblings of older students’ classmates, and students in consecutive grades know one another, coming from the US, it is still surprising to see such a sense of camaraderie. The sense of trust that students will take care of one another no matter how well or even if they know each other is an aspect of Mongolian life that foreigners would do well to mimic in their society.