Remarks by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at the Kindergarten Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in Zamiin-Uud

AMBASSADOR GALT: State Secretary Bolormaa, Governor Enkhtuyshin, Governor Aldarbayar, distinguished guests, parents and students – good afternoon and thank you for joining me today as we dedicate this brand new, beautiful kindergarten.

I am excited to be with you in Zamiin-Uud, during yet another great event to celebrate this, the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Mongolia.

We are here today to open the second of two kindergartens we have built this year, a gift to the people of Mongolia from the people of the United States.

This kindergarten is the result of the productive partnership between the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Sports, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Alaska, and the Mongolian construction firm MONCON.

I would like to thank the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Sports for their continued partnership with the U.S. Embassy to expand people-to-people exchanges between our two countries.

We see the results of these exchanges through the great work of our 107 Peace Corps volunteers, the 11 U.S. Fulbright scholars teaching and doing research in Mongolia, and the 33 Mongolian Fulbrighters studying in the United States.

Of particular note are the new Future Leaders – FLEX – and Leaders Advancing Democracy – LEAD – programs, which send Mongolian youth to the United States to study and experience life in the United States.

These exchange programs form the strong foundation on which our robust bilateral relationship continues to grow and develop.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the teachers and parents in this community for all your hard work and commitment toward enriching your children’s educations.

Our kindergarten building projects focus on education as well as on local capacity building and development.

Local capacity building is one of the most important aspects of our projects in Mongolia.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Alaska has refined its arctic construction techniques, and modified these sustainable cold-climate construction practices to best fit Mongolia’s needs.

Through collaborative engagement with the Mongolian Ministry of Education, these standards and practices can now be used in each new school the Ministry constructs.

We worked with the Mongolian construction firm MONCON to improve overall construction practices and capabilities in Mongolia, especially outside of Ulaanbaatar.

Strictly adhering to the highest U.S. standards, these projects provide employment opportunities for local construction workers and thereby stimulate Mongolia’s economy.

MONCON Construction, in conjunction with engineers at the Ministry of Education, has innovatively designed and constructed this modern, high-efficiency kindergarten using predominantly locally available construction materials and equipment.

Improving construction standards and helping to stimulate the economy are by-products of our most important goal:  to provide a kindergarten where Mongolian children can learn in a safe, healthy place.

Why is this important?  Early education is critical to strengthening the vibrant society Mongolia has built since 1990 when it made the courageous decision for democracy and a free and open market economy.

We support Mongolia in this choice, and view it as a shimmering light in a dark neighborhood.

Our decision to help your government provide essential services throughout the country – such as this model kindergarten – is a demonstration of our commitment to continuing to build on our 30-year partnership.

This kindergarten is part of a larger effort to enhance educational opportunities and improve the standard of living and learning conditions for Mongolia’s youth.

But we are not merely building a school – the United States will continue to support the improvement of early childhood education at this kindergarten.

A solid education at an early age is the gateway to future success and prosperity.

I am pleased to see these children and their families eager to begin their academic journey.

To that end, on behalf of the American people, I am delighted to present these English language books to this kindergarten, graciously donated by Spirit of America, an American NGO.

Through the collaborative efforts of the United States Embassy, United States Pacific Command, and the Mongolian Ministry of Education, we are pleased to provide you, the people of Zamiin-Uud, a modern, safe, and comfortable educational environment for your children.

Congratulations to all on this stunning new school.  Thank you.