Success Story: Pro Fellows Program Alumna Kara Katwaroo-Lee

Kara Katwaroo-Lee

“In participating in the Professional Fellows Program, funded by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the National Committee on U.S. and China Relations, I had a great opportunity to learn of the culture and practices of Mongolia.  It was exciting to exchange information about education and child welfare practices. It was also a rewarding experience to be able to meet and work with people who were passionate about children and families and making a difference.  I personally think it is essential that we continue to globally work in collaboration for the betterment of children and families; I would recommend this experience to all professionals.

As a host it was a pleasure to work with Bauyrjan Khuantkhan, an employee of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission located in Bayan-Ulgii, western Mongolia.  As a fellow in Spring 2017, Mr. Khuantkhan shadowed me and my colleagues at Lawyers for Children in New York City as we visited foster homes, residential treatment centers, foster care agencies and Manhattan Family Court.  With each new opportunity, he asked insightful questions and when possible, actively participated.  Mr. Khuantkhan also willingly shared his experience about the different systems and practices implemented at his current place of employment which serve the youth with whom he works.

It was evident that Mr. Khuantkhan benefited from this fellowship program as I was able to witness him deliver a number of presentations to NGO’s within Bayan-Ulgii: Association for Parents with Differently-abled Children, Save the Children (American Red Cross) and World Vision. As I listened to Mr. Khuantkhan speak, it was clear that he understood what he had observed at Lawyers for Children and had a solid understanding of the Child Welfare system in New York City.

Bauyrjan Khuantkhan with his family on Friendship HillBauyrjan Khuantkhan with his family on Friendship Hill

As part of the regional exchange, I was honored to be invited to visit Mr. Khuantkhan at the Norwegian Lutheran Mission office in Bayan-Ulgii in August 2017 (and to spend a few days in Ulaanbaatar as well).  I offered a presentation about Child Welfare and Family Court in New York City at the Norwegian Lutheran Mission office to a receptive and inquisitive audience that appeared eager to implement some of the information which I shared; at which time the Director of Family, Child and Youth Development Division was present.  In addition to this, I was able to visit a school for children with special needs and meet some of the parents of these children. I also had the opportunity to meet with the executive director of the Association of Parents with Differently-abled Children, who is very passionate about her work and whose goal is to develop inclusivity in Mongolian schools for children with special needs.  She was eager to exchange contacts in the hopes that I could assist her with providing her information as to how the United States, particularly New York City, is able to integrate children with special needs into our public school systems.  I also had the same experience with another individual, a gentleman, the founder of a private boarding school outside the provincial capital who shared the same passion as the Executive Director and with whom I also exchanged contact information.

In addition to the professional aspects of my time in Ulgii, Mr. Khuantkhan ensured that I saw some of the cultural and natural highlights Bayan-Ulgii had to offer, such as visiting an eagle hunter and his family.  I was also grateful that Mr. Khuantkhan and his wife invited me to their home for a lovely dinner, where I met their 2 year old son.  Mr. Khuantkhan could not have been more gracious and hospitable.

In sum, it is my hopes that we can continue this collaboration as I strongly believe that we as professionals could benefit from one another’s different work experiences, different styles of learning and different styles of teaching, as we try to promote healthy home and school environments for all children.  Finally all side could benefit from gaining an understanding of our different social, economic and political systems.”

Kara Katwaroo-Lee