While I loved and appreciated the expat circles in Ulaanbaatar, I was determined to become someone who integrated into the society somehow. Inclusivity is a two-way-street, and in my case, the first few paces down that street consisted of learning the language, studying Mongolian music, and a stroke of luck to find a group of the most loyal, intelligent, and brave Mongolians to be my friends.
Ask a Mongolian to name a characteristic associated with being Mongolian and they might very well reply “toughness” or “resilience”. There’s a good reason for this - two very good reasons, in fact. First of all, Mongolians must deal with and survive the vast harshness of our geography and climate. After all, having to survive the bitter, bone-wrenching cold of a -40 degrees Celsius winter, and the unpredictable hurdles of the steppe will beat the “softness” out of anyone.
Despite having grown up in America, I love being in Mongolia, the country of my birth and my childhood. I love the crisp, cold mornings, and the perfect tinge of blue overhead. I love the architecture and the downtown, a blend of history and modernity. I love hearing Mongolian being spoken around me. I love the steam of freshly cooked buuz, the sizzle of huushuur and the savory smell of suutai tsai. But most of all, I love the feeling I get – the feeling of finally coming home, the feeling of being so totally accepted and fitting in.
Mongolia’s development into the future requires innovative technology and integration in all forms of agriculture. We have over 1.5 million square kilometers of land, but only 3 million people. We have highly variable and extreme climate, but need stability in order to provide for our citizens, and to export our products to the world.
As I finished crossing the busy Ulaanbaatar street and breathed a sigh of relief, the driver stuck his head out of his window and started yelling at me, calling me names and angrily asking (commenting?) on whether I knew how to cross the street with another sprinkle of cuss words.
Looking at the Mongolian countryside, it is hard not to notice the white specks by hills, rivers, or in the middle of what seems like nowhere. Getting even closer you may hear the loud barks of the dog to alert their owners of the visitor. By the ruckus of the bark, the owners will bow their heads through the doorway of the white speck, which is of course a ger, and call his dog closer.
A recently released song called Toonot aims to bring together Mongol hip hop artists to sing a pan-Mongol song . We thought that this would be a great opportunity to talk about Pan-Mongolism and what it means in relation to this song. The song says “Mongol” over 30 times and has male and female hip… Continue reading Pan-Mongolism: What is it and Why do We Need it?
Every culture treasures mothers, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Mongolians love their mothers more. Yet, throughout Mongolian history and into today, moms have to put up with a lot more ~shtuff~. In this post, we explore what it means to be a mom, and by short extension, what is means to be a woman in Mongolian society.
Recently, I was speaking with a friend about wanting to be called Mongol (versus Mongolian), but how when I say it in English, it sounds… wrong. She quickly reminded me of an episode of 30 Rock, where Jack Donaghy, played by Alec Baldwin, and Elisa Pedriera, played by Salma Hayek, have a similar conundrum: Jack… Continue reading Call Me Mongol
Children make great jockeys. They are small, they are lightweight and they are competitive. But at the end of the day, horses are animals; they are not perfect, they can fall, they can get angry and buck you off, they can do numerous things to a lightweight child that can leave that child hurt, disabled for life or even dead.
This is Part 2 of a two part series on the Belt and Road Initiative and how it affects Mongolia. Part 1 looked at what the BRI is and its current status in Mongolia. Part 2 looks at the reactions to it in Mongolia, and whether there's anything to be done. Part II What are… Continue reading Just What is Going on with Mongolia and Belt and Road? Pt. 2
This is Part 1 of a two part series on the Belt and Road Initiative and how it affects Mongolia. Part 1 looks at what the BRI is and its current status in Mongolia. Part 2 looks at the reactions to it in Mongolia, and whether there's anything to be done. Part I Raise your… Continue reading Just What is Going on with Mongolia and Belt and Road? Pt. 1
Four years ago, my nephew and niece, at the time aged ten and six respectively, saw Disney’s animated film Mulan. They gleefully watched a story featuring a red fast-talking sidekick dragon, the brave young Mulan, and the yellow-eyed evil Huns. The movie’s catchy songs were sung around the house calling everyone to “let’s get down to business, to defeat the Huns!”
On June 26th, Mongolians went to the polls to elect their fifth president, repeating a process that has been in place for just 20 years. As with every election, Mongolians approached the event with gusto – even amid acerbic debate, they adorned their best, with their best displaying the wide range that the term implies.… Continue reading The 2017 Mongolian Presidential Election: Sinophobia as a Political Weapon
The National Statistics Office just released the annual GDP growth rate for 2014-2015, and it's not pretty. In 2015, the economy grew by 2.5%, which is a far cry from the 15.3% that we had in 2011, or even the 5.9% that we had in 2014. But it's nowhere what it was in 2009. In… Continue reading Mongolia GDP Lowest Since 2009