June17, 2011. Day One or Arrival
At very long last- Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A. … Have been waiting for this moment for some endless five months. And, now, I am here in the U.S. … Local time says it’s 2:30 in the morning. Almost twenty two hours‟ flight... Why am I not feeling tired? - Too excited? ... Will they meet me? - Of course, they will. They have been bombarding me with yahoo-in boxful of messages with programs, schedules, booklists and critical reviews, etc. Oh, thank this SUSI Program. I am out of all those summer jobs. No curriculum renovations, no translations, no summer tasks, nothing… Well, nearly nothing. Just read, participate and enjoy (or relax?) it here. I am a student now, not a teacher. So do as students do.
The first American. Or a Grizzly?
Louisville Airport- the final destination. He must be the person who came to pick me up. I know this look (I used to work as a guide during my summer holidays. So I know that “searching” look). He introduced himself as Mr. Thomas Byers- the head of the Literature Department of the University of Louisville. He looks tired. He said he had met another participant from Cameroon four hours earlier- His “Royal Highness” Dr. Veyu (from Cameroon), as I like to call him because of his gesticulations and way of walking.
June 19, 2011. Academic Orientation Seminar. Met the university staff. Nice people. Too much warnings and apologies about interculturalism, different cultures and offensive situations! When in Rome do as Romans do, they say. We came here to experience this country. So, no more “if-”s.
Well, I’d better shut up. They are doing their jobs, after all, and doing it with perfect professional skills. With what caution! With what preparation! Everything has been thought about. Not a single thing left. I wonder how long they have been doing this job! Must be all their lives.
June 20, 2012. I’m in a good mood as usual. Not feeling home-sick yet. Have Internet chats almost every night with my wife and daughter in my room. The dormitory has got everything you need. I wish we had such facilities for students back in Mongolia. But, I hope, we’ll have all these very soon.
June 21, 2011. Seminar. Only few days past. But looking at these people in the room, seems like I have known them for months. Eighteen university teachers (including me) from eighteen different countries. We ARE all teachers, after all. And teachers must be able to go along with other people. And, luckily, I haven’t met anyone I dislike and I hope I wouldn’t.
June 21, 2012. Had another city tour. Saw the Humana building-one of the best architectural constructions in the world. How lucky I am!
Learned a new word- gentrification- making poor places or districts rich with the help of artists, galleries and art-shops. I think, that’s what we need in our capital Ulaanbaatar where everyone tries to build something close to the centre of the city not the inking about the traffic, parking space, trees and parks, etc.
June 23, 2011. Another day has passed so quickly. It’s break time until 2 p.m. Hot. It is not hot, actually. It is burning ho t. I should have listened to Uyanga from the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia and followed her advice. How could I know that it could be this hot . If it is this hot here in America, then how hot is it in Africa! Must check it out later. But now I really need to have something cold to drink.
Where are the people, by the way? Empty streets. And it is not just today. Yesterday it was empty too. And the day before yesterday. Are we out of the city? But the city centre was empty as well. Where do people live? Where do they work? At home? Where are those skyscrapers, busy streets and commuters are expected to see!
June 24, 2011. Lecture on Post-modernism. Very interesting. Mass media, namely TV, has played a leading role in the develop-ment of post-modernism. “Movement of modernism to the post-modernism is the movement of paranoia to schizophrenia.” By Tho-mas Byers. Well-said, yeah?
June 25, 2011. Afternoon. Having a self-guided walking tour in the neighborhood with several other fellow participants. Again empty streets. I think I like it. Getting used to the hot weather. Nice houses. And no fences! Looks nice and clean. What are the fences for here in the city if there is nothing to hide or protect from. Houses. Modern, Victorian, wooden or brick. And a lot of space and wide streets. That’s what we should have in Mongolia.
Speculation on wealth. What is material wealth? For urban settled nations and people, I think, houses would be the most valuable thing. Because they have been developing settled civilization for hundreds of years. And it is a fun to think that we, Mongolians, carry all our wealth with ourselves since we are nomadic people by nature. I think, nobody would believe me that a mobile phone number beginning with 9911-, or car plate numbers like 22-22 could cost a price of a car in Mongolia.
Looking at program calendar. At first, it seemed to me that forty-five days are too short to see and experience everything. But, now, I start to think that forty-five days are just a perfect time. Not too long and not too short. And still we have many other things to see. There are another four or five cities to visit. And what is important is that there are some dozen more writers to meet.
Plenty of things to do: Monday morning and afternoon-seminars, every day. In the evening- family visit. Informal meeting with the university staff. Another opportunity for communication. Sunday morning- Speed Art Museum. Tuesday 5 pm- Kroger superstore. 6.30-9.30 pm-Baseball game. Thursday- Visiting the Mammoth Cave- the longest cave in the world. And there are some more and more interesting people and places to see.
June 27, 2011. Bought a new camcorder and a laptop. As the hard disk of my old one is already full. And, yet, this is the beginning of the program. I needed to up-date my old camcorder and laptop anyway. Thank you, SUSI Program. Thank you, the U.S. Department, for a generous allowance which allowed me to buy all these. Buy the way, why don’t they write or include the tax on the price tag!
July 5, 2011, San Francisco, California. This city seems busier than others. The main street reminds me of Oxford Street, London, with numerous multi-storey shopping centers and luxury hotels and restaurants, and, of course, the Starbucks and McDonalds chains. But the Chinatown is better and bigger, I found. Mr. Brian Leung. What a personality. A successful writer, teacher -lecturer, and what is more- a lot of fun!
July 9, 2011. Saturday. M.L. King Memorial and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Impressive. “I have a dream …” Interest-ing city tour with Mr. Browning. Mural art.
July 10, 2011 Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sessions and meetings with another six well-to-do writers-professors including Evelina Galang, Steve Tomasula, Gerald Visenor, and Percival Everett.
July 20, 2011. 9:15 am. Day trip to the Underground Railroad Freedom Ctr., Cincinnati, Ohio, in connection with Toni Morrison‟s A Mercy.
July 25, 2012. Back to Louisville. Seems like coming back home. I like this city. Because it is the first city I saw in the US? The first impression does have a voice in choice. And the zoo. I think, better than the one in San Francisco. Because you can see animals at very close distance- just behind the glass wall.
July 30, 2012. This is it. The end of the summer program. These forty-five days have passed so fast. But, on the other hand, I feel like I have been in the U.S. for months or years. Well, at least, I can talk to my students about the U.S. with a better confidence, because I have seen and experienced everything myself. And how could the organizing staff arrange all the events and make everything so perfect.
I feel a bit tired now. But I have got another month to rest before a go back to work. And, I think, it is going to be a long month of speculation about what I have seen here in the U.S. and long nights of reading of what I haven’t read from the big pile of books they gave me with the cash money to cover the postal expenses. Again very thoughtful, isn’t it?