Remarks at the Sixth National Alumni Conference

DECEMBER 10, 2022

Thank you, Ms. Bilguun, for your warm welcome. And thank you, MASA members and alumni. It is an honor to join you for today’s National Alumni Conference.

This year is a very special one for us. I think most people know by now that 2022 marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Mongolia, but it also marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Mongolian Association of State Alumni (MASA). Happy anniversary MASA!

I arrived in Mongolia barely two months ago and yet it is already obvious that Mongolians and Americans have so much in common, from our independent spirits to democratic values. I think there is no group in Mongolia that better represents and embodies this than our alumni.

This is my first official event with alumni as Ambassador to Mongolia, as well as my first big alumni gathering. I believe strongly in supporting you. You are our informal ambassadors. Through you, people in your communities learn about all the benefits that open democratic societies can offer.

Your volunteer efforts and your work promote the values shared between the United States and Mongolia. Whether it is your work in promoting education and literacy, environmental stewardship and awareness raising, supporting increased access to democratic processes, or fostering the growth and expansion of micro-, small, and medium enterprises, your efforts will create a space for a more independent and free Mongolian populace. I commend you for these efforts.

Speaking of efforts, I’m proud to call out the incredible work our alumni and alumni organizations are doing. MASA has been a valued partner implementing the EducationUSA Mongolia program over the last three years, reaching over 30,000 students across 11 provinces. Through innovative and inclusive practices, they have shown thousands of Mongolians, with diverse abilities and backgrounds, paths to study in the United States and further grow our group of impressive alumni!

LEADAA, an alumni association for USAID’s Leaders Advancing Democracy program participants, has also helped support, inspire, and empower youth to make positive change in their communities over the last four years through the “LEADing Aimags” project. During their annual conference in June 2022, LEADAA’s members decided to advance LEADAA as a “watchdog” organization and I am excited to see how our alumni will hold Mongolia’s leaders accountable while promoting transparency, poverty reduction, and environmentally sustainable efforts.

Our alumni organizations also recognize the importance and expertise of their individual members and provide valuable opportunities for alumni to share their knowledge. For example, IVLP exchange alum Javzandulam and FLEX alumni like Nyamdavaa who have shared their experiences as part of the embassy’s monthly talk series; as well as Jargal DeFacto, who just shared his experience on MASA’s award-winning podcast series. I am grateful to all of you who volunteer your time in so many different ways to empower and engage with future alumni.

The U.S. alumni community is an important asset to Mongolia. During your time in the United States you gained new experiences, broadened your knowledge, and expanded your network. The embassy is proud to support alumni programming like this conference to ensure that the experiences of our U.S. alumni community continue to positively impact Mongolian society.

Congratulations for all your hard work, dedication, and passion! I encourage all of you to continue making an impact whether that be motivating others or simply sharing what you’ve learned overseas. As alumni, your impressive array of experiences and perspectives are contributing to Mongolia’s development and improving the lives of Mongolia’s people.

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