Airports have become something of a common haunt for me. After making the 14+ hour trip between the US and East Asia several times, I have gotten used to the strangely formal atmosphere of air transit. You’re stuck together in a metal container that can miraculously lift off the ground despite the tons it must weigh. You look around at each other, smile if you feel like it, and go on your way. To do any more would be to break a social rule, namely, that of “don’t talk to strangers.” For me, like many others, making these trips offer generous periods of time for quiet contemplation. As the lights die down, and the pearl oval windows close, the space within is surprisingly comforting. And comfort is something that a person thrust out of the womb of higher education gladly welcomes. At the same time, there is great worry associated with this trip. First, will the project go as planned? Possibly not, but we will try.
This summer, my peer and friend, Tee, and I will set out to our homeland to carry out a project of sustainable development. Our project, Fighting Malnutrition in Rural Mongolia is funded by the generous Davis Projects for Peace. Projects for Peace allows students at United World College Scholars Program partner schools to pursue a summer project that promotes peace and conflict resolution through a myriad of different methods. Our method of choice will be building a greenhouse at the 14th School in Khongor, Mongolia, a district of Darkhan-Uul province in northern Mongolia. The project focuses on providing alternatives to expensive imported fruits and vegetables from Russia and China, as well as addressing the limits of the traditional Mongolian diet. After construction is completed, the greenhouse will be stocked with various fruits and vegetables, and then given to the 14th School. Our ultimate goal is that the greenhouse will not only supplement the students’ diet, but also the science and health curriculum.
While in Khongor, Tee and I will also hold workshops aimed at spreading awareness of malnutrition in Mongolia. The key here is that malnutrition refers not to lack of food, but a lack of certain nutrients, excess of certain nutrients, and the wrong proportion of certain nutrients. Mongolia has all three conditions.
This blog will be aimed at keeping track of our project and our progress, as well as surveying the current condition of development in Mongolia.