Retreat: A withdrawal for prayer and study and meditation; the going backward or receding from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant; a place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security. Some of the ‘retreats’ I’ve been to during my time at the World Bank could also be described as ‘very long and tedious meetings in windowless hotel basements’ not far from the office. But thankfully the one which 46 members of the Mongolia Country Team attended recently in Mongolia was very different.
It was held at a rather charming ger tent camp on the banks of the Orkhon River not far from Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of the Mongolian Empire and part of UNESCO’s Orkhon Valley World Heritage Site. The camp is owned by ‘Asashoryu Akinori’ one of Mongolia’s most famous sumo wrestlers who in 2003 became the first Mongolian to reach sumo's highest rank.
|Ger building was among the activities staff participated in.|
|There was a lot of sitting around but also enough time for open and active discussion.|
When it was over we returned to Ulaanbaatar stopping to see Erdene Zuu and to deal with a burst tire. Soon enough we all found ourselves faced by “something formidable or unpleasant”—impatient emails, documents which hadn’t written themselves, and phone messages wondering whether we’d deserted our responsibilities. Despite this, I for one felt encouraged, informed, and refreshed by this retreat.