As I get to know Mongolia in my capacity as U.S. Ambassador to your country, I am constantly struck by the warm feelings between our peoples, and the potential to make those feelings even closer. Aiming to build on that potential, Prime Minister Khurelsukh and Secretary of State Pompeo agreed last year to make 2019 the U.S.-Mongolia Year of Youth. I felt incredibly fortunate that one of my first official functions, after I presented my diplomatic credentials to President Battulga two months ago, was to join Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsogtbaatar in inaugurating the Year of Youth.
What has also struck me in my short time here is how many Mongolians have studied in the U.S., and how much this has contributed to that closeness between our peoples. Graduates of U.S. universities, including those who are now members of a dynamic organization of U.S. alumni known as the Mongolian Association of State Alumni (MASA), have gone on to become leaders and innovators in many fields in your country. Other alumni groups, from individual U.S. universities and colleges, have also been highly impressive.
It’s part of a buzz of activity that I’ve seen throughout these past two months. I’ve traveled to Khovd with representatives of MASA to talk about education and scholarship opportunities, spoken with students at the U.S. University Fair at the American Corner in Ulaanbaatar, and met with English teachers from around Mongolia at an Embassy graduation ceremony for advanced English teaching training. I’ve met with many American Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright English Teaching Assistants that are providing valuable English teaching services. I have been so impressed with the talent and ambition of the young people I met, that I am more convinced than ever that together, young Americans and Mongolians can better tackle the challenges of the future.
Now, as many U.S. institutions of higher learning send offers of admission to applicants, I take this opportunity to congratulate those who have received this happy news. You should be proud of the invitation to join a special and select group of young people whose lives will be changed forever by the dynamism, openness, and quality of campuses across the United States.
Those of you who accept these offers of admission will join the over one million international students now in the over 4,700 accredited institutions of higher learning in the United States. Those million-plus international students strengthen ties between the United States and countries around the world, developing the relationships between people and communities that are necessary to solve global challenges.
Our focus is on inclusion, so we actively support students from diverse backgrounds on our campuses. We do this to share the unmatched quality of American higher education. We also do it because international students bring unique and diverse perspectives both in and out of the classroom. American universities and communities benefit from the knowledge and talents of international students, which helps prepare all of us for shared, successful futures in an interconnected world.
U.S. colleges and universities take pride in providing safe, welcoming environments for all their students, and I want to stress how welcome you will be in the United States. Many U.S. universities have sent messages of welcome to students around the world through the #YouAreWelcomeHere Campaign (https://www.youarewelcomehereusa.org). I join them in welcoming you to the United States, where our colleges and universities offer valuable educational opportunities to help you meet your life and career goals.
Even as I congratulate those who have already received offers of admission, I also urge others who are serious about studying abroad to look into opportunities to follow in their footsteps by applying to U.S. universities and colleges. Our embassy is here to help. With so many accredited institutions in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, there’s an American college or university that’s right for everyone. We can help you sort through those opportunities: our EducationUSA advisers at the American Corner in Ulaanbaatar stand ready to answer questions about studying in the United States. You can access free information and counseling at http://www.educationusa.mn/. There are study options at many price points, including community colleges and “2 plus 2” models that combine study at a community college and a four year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree. Preparing to study in the United States means studying English in Mongolia now, and we have help available in that regard as well, at American Corners and online at https://AmericanEnglish.state.gov. Our consular officials at the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar diligently process student visa requests, and information about the visa application process is available at https://mn.usembassy.gov and at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html. Our #TravelResponsibly campaign is raising awareness about the kinds of employment opportunities permitted on a student visa, and about the types of activities that can help those studying in the United States demonstrate that they are maintaining the ties to Mongolia required.
Study in the United States provides unparalleled opportunities for serious students to obtain a world-class degree and then advance Mongolia’s democracy, economy, and society upon returning home. American colleges and universities welcome you, as do the American people and communities throughout our country. For those of you who have received offers of admission, I congratulate you. For those considering applying to American universities and colleges, let me stress that we are here to help!