Mongolian and U.S. High School Girls Travel to Study Climate Change from Teenage Viewpoint

Five high school girls from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have been chosen to travel to Mongolia this summer to see firsthand how climate change is impacting the lives of Mongolians as part of the girls’ involvement in the U.S. State Department’s Museums Connect program. The girls are participants in the Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) program at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Their trip comes after the visit of five Mongolian high school girls to Philadelphia, the first phase of the exchange.

The U.S. and Mongolian teens have been getting to know each other and participating in shared lessons through internet. “The focus of the classes is climate change and how it pertains to water quality and food. Academy scientists have been studying water quality and biodiversity in Mongolia for 20 years, so it’s a natural fit,” said Betsy Payne, WINS manager.

By early fall, the two intercontinental teams will pull their knowledge and develop lessons and presentations about climate change that will be incorporated into the public programming at the Academy and the National Museum of Mongolia.

“We don’t know what they’ll come up with,” said Dr. Jacquie Genovesi, the Academy’s vice president of education. “We want the teens to actually develop these materials so that we get climate change from their viewpoint.

Late last week Payne informed the five Philadelphia teens that they were selected to spend the first two weeks of July in Ulaanbaatar. The National Museum of Mongolia is the Academy’s collaborator on the project, with Munhtuya Goulden serving as the Museums Connect Project Program Coordinator. Goulden and her husband Dr. Clyde Goulden, director of the Academy’s Asia Center, have interviewed dozens of herders over the last 20 years of documenting their lives.

The Museums Connect program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State that is administered by the American Alliance of Museums, pairs museums in the U.S. with museums abroad for a cross-cultural exchange that brings people, especially youth, together through community projects that address important topics, such as women’s empowerment and environmental protection, among others.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Academy of Natural Sciences website on March 17, 2015.