It is difficult to wrap up my impressions of Mongolia into one paragraph. There were so many things that will stick with me: the people, the traffic, the food, the beauty of the countryside, the friends made, the adventures had, the amazing opportunities to see so much in such a short time, the long flights to get there and home, the fatigue, the cold, and let’s not forget the day we visited the nomad family and thought that we were traveling to the ends of the earth and may not make it out to an actual road before nightfall. I would have to say that the one thing that I was the most impressed with and what I will remember the most about Mongolia is their education system and the importance that they place on well-rounded education, beginning from a very early age. They include arts, sciences, maths, music, history, geology and so much more.
One of my favorite experiences, at one of the many schools that we visited, was the geology museum. It was fascinating! I found it incredible that there is such a rich diversity in resources, many yet untapped! The wealth of gemstones and dinosaur fossils and oil and marble is simply astounding! Another experience that I will never forget is watching that little girl in 3rd grade using an abacus! I was astonished to hear that they teach Algebra as early as the 3rd grade. Algebra! In the third grade!? Amazing! I was very impressed with how organized, clean, happy and active the schools were! No sloppy dressing, pants hanging below the bum, tattered shoes or clothing on a single student and yet it was quite easy to see the individuality of each face from the elementary to the university level! They ENJOYED learning! American students could benefit greatly from an exchange program with Mongolia! I hope that our visit helped to pave the way and open many doors for that to happen in the future! I was honored to have been chosen to be a part of the delegation. I will cherish the memories for a lifetime.