Counterpart Development

In-Service Training (IST) is like Pre-Service Training which we all went through as Peace Corps Trainees over the summer in that it prepares us for our work as Peace Corps Volunteers. It is different however in that it is not preparing us for our first few months at site, but rather preparing us and our counterparts for our remaining one and a half years. We learned about how to design and manage projects, how to better communicate and collaborate with our Mongolian coworkers (who we call counterparts or CPs) and how to effectively plan and manage our time as Volunteers. At this point in our service most of us are pretty excited about the seemingly infinite possibilities in our jobs and in some cases the overwhelming enormity of all things we would like to accomplish. There are grants to write, ideas to turn into projects, projects to turn into realities and realities that we would like to make out of huge dreams.

During IST each of us is allowed to invite one counterpart from our host agency and every session during the conference is taught, either together or separately, in both the English and Mongolian languages. Munhkzul, my IST counterpart, is a brilliant Pediatrician in our hospital who speaks wonderful English and whom I was very lucky to have accompany me to the conference. She is a very busy woman, both professionally and at home with her family, but having her at the conference has been really wonderful. We brainstormed together on all kinds of projects and reminded each other of all kinds of possibilities in our hospital and health department. I learned a tremendous amount about Munkhzul, about Peace Corps, and about how to work on projects in the coming months. We have a lot of great ideas and exciting plans for the future, including seminars on time management and effective planning and goal setting which Munkhzul wants to teach to doctors, nurses and health care workers in the hospital. I will be advising her, watching her when she presents and then sharing my thoughts with her afterward to help improve her future presentations. Other plans for us include teaching seminars on nutrition, hand washing, stress management, creating resources to teach community members about how to live healthier lives and sitting down once a month to plan out the upcoming month's activities. We are both very excited and look forward to an incredible year!