Reflections of the 2016 SUSI Women’s Leadership Program Participants

On June 25 – July 30, 2016, a group of four Mongolian young women traveled to the U.S. to participate in the Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) on Women’s Leadership program. SUSI on Women’s Leadership examines the history and participation of women in public life in the United States, with a focus on developing participants’ leadership skills. Below are some reflections our participants shared:

Bujinlkham Bandikhuu

As a young girl I thought a great leader is someone in higher position and has an authority. But participating in the SUSI on Women’s Leadership changed me and my view of real leadership. This program gives you an opportunity of making 25 sisters, who can teach you everything: how to work, how to communicate, how to manage your self-development, and how to make real lifetime sisters and partners in the community. The program also gives you new ideas, new information, and great mentors, network and inspirations.

I remember the day when we first came to the United States of America. When we arrived at the airport in Washington, DC, the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute (KWLI) representatives greeted us with warm hugs. Four of us participated in the SUSI on Women’s Leadership program at the KWLI. From the activities I participated, I would like to highlight some of the course activities and the SUSI Conference.

One of the program highlights for me is when we worked on “Mission Vision Values” project. We were asked to design mission vision of our own and the project helped us to determine our goals for leadership. Besides taking academic courses, we participated in the SUSI Conference where representatives from 20 countries participated and discussed issues related to women and exchanged our views.

I want to thank all the organizers and faculties, who have tirelessly worked on organizing this outstanding program for all past, present and future young women leaders.

Hulan Givaasuren

Traveling to the United States of America, as a participant of the SUSI on Women’s Leadership program was one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only I faced challenges such as adopting in a new environment and going out of my comfort zone, I was able to do self-discovery. As a result, my perspective to see the world changed and I found out my strengths and weaknesses as who I am.

The program helped me to build my most cherished relationship with the girls from different parts of the world. They gave me the strength and encouragement to do the things that will help my community, especially for the development of young women. I recommend SUSI on Women’s Leadership program to young girls and say, “don’t be afraid to challenge yourself – the more you challenge yourself, the more you will learn!”

Ichinkhorloo Khosbayar

Being a part of this program alone was honorable, and life changing experience for me. Visiting the U.S. was a dream of mine until that moment. As a young Mongolian, who grew up watching Hollywood movies and listening to American songs, my stereotype of America has completely changed by experiencing it in person. Celebrating 4th of July for the first time – watching parade, having picnic, and watching fireworks in Wamego, KS – was fun. Visiting museums like the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC and the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield I learned more about American history. And staying in a host family gave me opportunity to talk with locals about the U.S. and my country, Mongolia.

For me the program highlight was when I learned about adaptive leadership with my fellow participants and plus students from University of Kansas (KU), which made it even more interesting. I’ll never forget the feeling that when we were all outside to shout out purpose of our projects as loud as we can, I was afraid that I might not speak louder. One of KU students encouraged me to do it saying, “You got it, you got it”. After hearing that, I don’t know how, but I did it. Our final presentations got me emotional; I was moved by their great experiences and great ideas they’ve shared.

The other take away from the program is the friendship that will last a life time. Living together with 25 young women from different countries, cultures and backgrounds was totally adaptive challenge. But as time goes by we understood each other, helped and took care of one and another, and most importantly we created a sisterhood.

All in all, the SUSI on Women’s Leadership gave me invaluable opportunity to explore and experience the U.S., gain longtime friends, take adaptive challenges and improve myself; and made me realize that making contributions to the society is vital.

Tungalag Adiya

I was surprised so much when I heard cheers and loud voices saying, “Tungaa, Tungaa” while I was trying to play tennis for the first time in the U.S. That was my fellow participants supporting me and their pronunciation was pretty accurate.

I’ve never been to a foreign country before, and for 20 years I’ve been living amongst people who used same language as me. I remember the moment I came to the U.S. At the first, my biggest challenge was the language barrier. Even though I studied English for several years, I found the lectures hard to catch but gradually my listening got better that I could laugh at the jokes with my classmates.

I used to think that people from other countries are different from me mostly due to cultural differences and society. However after all those days and nights that we have spent together working on homework and assignments, I realized that in the end we were all the same, we are all humans. It doesn’t matter where we grew up.

I also noticed that foreigners express themselves openly and they share their experiences, thoughts and even their mistakes. The best thing of being open is that they share about their mistakes so that other can avoid making that same mistake. This experience was helpful for me to take a step forward, and with encouragements from my fellow participants, I got out of my comfort zone, and grew more confident.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the U.S. Embassy, and the SUSI program for giving me an opportunity to discover myself.

To learn more about the SUSI on Women’s Leadership program, click here!