Throughout 2017, the U.S. Embassy is proud to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-Mongolia diplomatic relations.
Note: The U.S. government and the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs do not sanction or authorize the reproduction or use of this logo on any item not bearing the official imprimatur of one or both governments, or at any event not linked to official events celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-Mongolia diplomatic relations.
PEACE CORPS HIGHLIGHTS
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of people-to-people relations between the U.S. and Mongolia, Peace Corps in Mongolia is posting monthly highlights throughout the year!
January: Second Annual Western Regional Special Olympics
Fifteen Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts from seven aimags came together on January 30th and 31st to facilitate the 2nd Annual Western Region Special Olympics in Govi-Altai Aimag. The games involving 76 athletes and included basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, track events and table tennis. There were also 20 local businesses and organizations that contributed to the project, making the entire event community funded. Good fun was had by all.
March: Through the Sound of Music Project Initiated by Peace Corps Volunteer Bryan Cassella
Peace Corps volunteer Bryan Cassella’s “Through the Sound of Music” project has enjoyed widespread community support and raised over $6,000 in Undur-Ulaan, Arkhanghai. The project aims to support the school’s current music program with the end goal of creating a school-sponsored orchestra. In line with this mission, the funds have been used to purchase musical instruments, books on theory and performance, and other resources. While developing the project, Bryan surveyed students in his community and identified 122 middle and high school students with strong interests in learning an instrument. He believes that music is not just an after-school activity, but a means of developing oneself.
April: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in Arkhangai Aimag
Peace Corps Volunteer Trenton Schneiders recently directed a Mongolian translation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the countryside of Arkhangai aimag. He was able to use art and theatre to teach many of the life skills he normally teaches in the classroom: communication, emotions, self-esteem, empathy, and more.
This project brought together members of the community in ways Trenton had not seen before. The show was acted by students, watched by parents and other adults, and made possible by the community coming together with a shared goal of youth development. Until this presentation, theatre like this had not been done in his region, so neighboring communities have invited him and the students to visit and perform the play.
May: Peace Corps Volunteer Profile - Christian Edenfield
Christian Edenfield or Sharkhuu (i.e. “yellow boy”) has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia for the past three years. Beginning in September of 2017, he will begin his fourth year of service, the first volunteer to serve in Mongolia for more than three years!
Christian spent two years in a small village in Sukhbaatar Province working with local English teachers to pursue student-centered methods of teaching and increase students’ interest in learning “the world’s language.”
His current service has in a larger community also in Sukhbaatar Province promoting English literacy amongst elementary and high school students.
June: Village to City project by Peace Corps Volunteer and their Mongolian counterparts
Peace Corps Volunteers and their Mongolian counterparts recently completed the “Village to City” project, which has been successfully running for five years now. The project’s goals remain three-fold. First, to provide an opportunity for ambitious and determined students from the outer areas of Mongolia to travel to the centralized capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. Second, to facilitate the unique opportunity for the students to interact professionally with prospective employers and co-workers. Third, to equip students with the interpersonal tools and skills to further their educations and careers. The program was a great success with ten different organizations—including Khan Bank, GMIT, The Mongolian National Basketball Association, Mongolia Growth Group, IRI , The Zorig Foundation, EARC, The Kempinski Hotel, The Asia Foundation and MACU—agreeing to host these young leaders in Ulaanbaatar. By the end of the tour, students demonstrated a notable increase in their knowledge of career planning, goal setting, professional skills, networking, and career development. However, that was not the end of the Village-to-City experience. They were able to attend an MNBA Championship game, meet the players and receive gifts. They watched Wonder Woman at the movie theatre, spent an evening on the rides at the Children’s Park and courageously tried a variety of food, as the staff made sure to pick something new for lunch every day. It was a truly impactful experience for everyone involved. All projects in the Peace Corps are meant to become sustainable as volunteers who created or participated in the project end their service and move on to other endeavors. Therefore, in 2018, the VtC team hopes to transfer even more responsibility to the Mongolian counterparts and let the volunteers act as advisors instead of organizers. A wonderful project that will hopefully completely belong to Mongolia soon.”
July: “Cartoon Camp” by Peace Corps Volunteer Rob Humphrey
Peace Corps Volunteer Rob Humphrey put on a “Cartoon Camp” this past month in Erdenet. The object of this summer camp was to inspire original thinking and unleash untapped creativity in students 10 to 18 years of age. A total of 26 students participated with many showing up early every day to continue their projects. At the end of the 3-day camp, each student produced a well-rounded and original protagonist and antagonist. The class also started a comic book with an original story involving their main characters. While Rob taught students about a character’s wants and needs and how to tell a story, Tugsbaatar Daramsvren, his Mongolian counterpart and an art instructor at a high school, was charged with the art side of things. Overall, the camp was a major success and everyone is looking forward to it next year.
August: New Peace Corps Cohorts
On May 29th, sixty volunteers first set foot on Mongolian soil; the place they will call home for the next two years. They were whisked away to the homes of Mongolian host families awaiting their arrival. For the next eleven weeks, these trainees learned the Mongolian way of life, studied the language and practiced specific skills for their new job. After a difficult training period they were sworn in on August 12th. The ceremony included cultural performances accompanied by loud cheers from the audience. The new Volunteers said heartfelt goodbyes to their Mongolian families and friends, and made their way to their permanent sites throughout Mongolia’s provinces. We are happy to welcome them to the Peace Corps Mongolia Family and wish them luck in the new school year.
September: Environmental Education and Vocational Skills Camp by Volunteer Perrin Krisko
September often means back to school madness for many PCVs around the country, but one volunteer decided to add another thing to her plate this fall. Volunteer Perrin Krisko, organized an environmental education and vocational skills camp. Students studied sustainable development methods in regards to environmental protection and air pollution prevention. They also learned welding skills and created a bike rack to encourage others to ride their bike around town instead of driving. Students are putting their new skills to the test by organizing a community garbage pick-up and raising awareness about environmental issues in their home.
October: Khuld Village Middle School Lunch Room and Hygiene Project
This month we highlight the work of currently serving Peace Corps Volunteer, Michael Cramer, who is an M-27 working in Mandalgovi, the capital of Dundgovi province. His vision was to provide lunch rooms for village schools in Dundgovi province with better tables and chairs so the students would not have to continue to eat lunch at their desks – a situation common to many village schools. With a small grant award (just over $2,000) from U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, Michael was able to work with local carpenters to provide the Khuld Village Middle School with the necessary chairs and tables to use in their dining hall (13 tables and 76 chairs), thus reducing disruptions to classroom learning, and promoting improved hygiene at school. He was also able to provide the school with a series of eleven Life Skills books with topics ranging from self-confidence to communication. Another partner in this project, World Vision, also donated 150 toothbrushes to support an interactive seminar Michael ran to teach the importance of students’ washing their hands and brushing their teeth. All procurement aspects of this project were run through local businesses, including the printing, binding, and lamination of the hygiene-related educational materials. In this way, Michael’s project not only created a healthier and improved classroom-learning environment for the students at the Khuld Village Middle School, it also supported the local economy. This successful multi-partner project demonstrates the power of U.S.-Mongolian cooperative efforts at the local level, and we hope it can be replicated in other villages and schools across Mongolia.
November: Halloween across Mongolia
October 31st brought Halloween to schools across Mongolia as Peace Corps Volunteers hosted 2nd goal activities in their schools and communities. The second goal of Peace Corps is to share American culture with Mongolians. Some volunteers got creative and made jack-o’-lantern’s out of pumpkins or other vegetables they could find in their soums. Volunteers hosted costume contests and decorated their schools with skeletons, pumpkins and scary monsters. Mummy making contests and bobbing for apples were other hits of the events. Candy was eaten and laughter could be heard throughout the halls. Sharing fun holidays like this makes volunteers feel at home.
December: Projects towards Gender Equitable Society
M26 volunteer Julie is spending her third year working with Women for Change NGO (Өөрчлөлтийн төлөөх Эмэгтэйчүүд ТББ) in Ulaanbaatar. They have been busy during the autumn months holding workshops and events for women on topics such as women’s participation and leadership in the political sphere, sexism women face in life, and sexual reproductive health. They are currently initiating a project with university students in Ulaanbaatar encouraging policy development to protect students against sexual harassment. This vital work is helping Mongolia work towards goal number 5 of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals which aims to have a gender equitable society. Working with an NGO has given the volunteer the opportunity to develop skills in grant writing, monitoring and evaluation, and learn firsthand how NGOs function day to day.
January: Communication through traditional music instruments
After hearing throat singing and morin khuur music prior to their service it was a no brainer that Volunteers Mike and Haley wanted to study Mongolian music during their service. Since arriving in late May 2017, Mike has bought a morin khuur and Haley has purchased a shanz. Learning these instruments has been a great way to connect with people in their community and a tool for integration. Both morin khuur and shanz use western musical notation which they studied in the States. This means that while their music teachers don’t speak English they can understand and communicate through music. In a culture where music is truly a part of daily life, they are happy to experience and learn it.
SPEECHES & PRESS RELEASES
- 12/23/2016: U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mongolia Unveil the Official Logo for the 30th Anniversary of U.S.-Mongolia Diplomatic Relations
- 1/27/2017: Remarks by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at the 30th Anniversary Conference of U.S.-Mongolia Diplomatic Relations
- 1/27/2017: Remarks by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at the Joint Press Conference for the 30th Anniversary Photo Exhibit
- 1/27/2017: Remarks by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at the Concert of Break of Reality & Mongolian State Morin Khuur Ensemble
- 1/27/2017: Remarks by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at the 30th Anniversary Reception