Monday, July 28, 2008

Glamorous work

Today I spent a good hour talking to Chicago architecture student Sarah Bassett on US-Mongolia connections - architecture, urbanism and research - including ACMS, GTZ, Fulbright scholars and other researchers and projects I have seen here. Like Melitta Kuglitsch's work with savings groups in Bayanzurkh Ger District. I chuckle comparing my work here with 'Dreamspaces'... with the helicopter circling David Adjaye's glamorous trio on a rooftop...

A video piece was one good suggestion for my блок / blog (draft). Meanwhile, one former student blog-reader Farisayi Utete (Conservation architect, Harare) suggested a radio piece on the BBC, and another, James Webb (Ueber-Designer-Architect, Amsterdam), encouraged me to publish a book.

The summer weather in Mongolia has been changeable, with some strong downpours causing flooding in the western peri-urban "twenty-first microdistrict" around the college. Many colleagues are making the most of the greenness, thanks to the rain, to holiday in the countryside.

Since their arrival on the Trans-siberian train last week I have hosted Ana Rewakowicz (Canada) and Annu Wilenius (Finland), musing about moving space, the state of Ulaanbaatar, and planning for this years' Blue Sun Art Camp with Yondon Dalkh-Ochir and others.

On Saturday at VSO I met over thirty Mongolian Deaf people who are learning American Sign Language with a Mongolian trainer and Nickson Kakiri. It was a basic training for a video conference/ cultural exchange conversation between deaf America and Mongolia in September. In a three hour training session, I learned many terms, and met two Norwegian Deaf tourists with their Mongolian Guide, Nemekhbayar Batnasah (UNV, see p.2) Afterwards, I was the only hearing person, besides a professional MSL/ ASL Mongolian-English translator, joining a large group which went on to a cafe. There were many discussions, several simultaneously crossing one another on a long table, and the most arcane conversation I have yet witnessed in my new experience of deaf culture, as two Mongolians discussed signing and deaf culture in Mongolia in Mongolian Sign Language. *


Erickson said...

Hi. I am RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) and served in Kenya for two years (2005-07). I have read your comment on blog about teaching ASL to Deaf Mongolians. I was a quite shocked.

Respectively, I strongly disagreed that Deaf Mongolians are teaching in ASL by a Mongolian Trainer, who is not a native ASL. I felt that Deaf Mongolians should use Mongolia Sign Lang. (MSL) as part of their pride deaf language and an unique language in Mongolia Deaf Culture. I believe that ASL should not be influence in their own sign language like colonize their language. Let it be alone. However, I certainly hope that you will encourage Deaf Mongolians to use their own language, MSL. Thanks.

nomadologist said...

Hi Erickson
After learning of rumours, it is valuable to discuss criticism first hand - thanks for commenting.
Apparently my perspective, as a native speaker of neither ASL, MSL, nor native of Mongolia, unintentionally put a colonial bias on the story.
This morning I read with horror about Filatova, wife of the 1950s Mongolian Prime Minister Tsedenbal trying to enforce the use of Russian over Mongolian Language (J Becker 1992, p101). I strongly advocate for and support local and native languages, like Nyungar, from my birthplace.
I understand Mongolian Deaf people want to continue to develop MSL, but they apparently also want to internationalise - and communicate with people like you and I - while doing so.

JimV said...

Hi. Nice somebody write about us from Norwegian! ;-) Very interest look at Deaf Mongolians teaching in ASL. I look they were very interest to learn that and english words. (Perhaps they will know more about other languages and culture.) :-)