What Makes A “Good” Study Abroad Program

For my French study abroad semester, orientation was 2 weeks long and is finally nearing its end. It’s been an exhausting time, though nowhere near as intense as the orientation in Yokoze, Japan for the fall. Comparing the two, as well as my internship program in Mongolia, brings about some interesting reflections about what constitutes a “good” study abroad program. Namely, I feel that integration into the community for students is key to developing a truly fulfilling experience.

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“The constellations were covered by the smoke”

The constellations were covered by the smoke

Of your cigar, and as I squinted at Cygnus,

“What’s so amazing about stars,” you spoke,

“That keeps us gazing at night?” For Polaris

We chase no more down the banks of River Tuul,

And we’ve never understood the astronomer’s charts.

But someone once said, “Make a wish and you’ll

Be answered.” So lovers and thinkers sat in parks

In Lisbon and Kyoto watching swans

Glide on long pearled lake lights and thought

How gold and clear the sky shines at dawn

And constellations connect more than just the dots.

That might be why – When we part to places new

I know we’ll keep on stargazing then too.

Written December 31, 2018.

Parameters: Shakespearean sonnet, memories of this past year

Ripping Away The Calendar Pages

It’s that time of the year again where I tell myself that I’m going to strike it rich, get six pack abs, and marry a hot K-Pop star. Usually by the time January 3rd rolls around, I look at my empty bank account, get the gin, and get annoyed with men, then say, “Looks like I’ll have to try again next year.”

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Racial identity in Mongolia as a foreigner

My final article at the UB Post, unedited version. My boss requested that I write an article detailing particular impressions I had of Mongolia as a foreigner, but this wound up being a piece on Asian-American identity and the ambiguous place of Asian adoptees in ethnic communities. Link to original is currently unavailable.

When I first arrived, I hopped in a taxi with a Mongolian cab driver who spoke no English. He was a cheery fellow, blasting and humming along to 1960s radio tunes.

While we were waiting in traffic, he asked me something in rapid Mongolian. I shook my head and said I didn’t understand. He said more slowly, “Bi, mongold. Chi?”

“Bi mongold bish,” I replied, the only sentence I knew at the time. He demanded, what was I, then – Japan? Korea? Mexico? I told him, “American.”

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UNFPA battles domestic violence with family planning and education

Article from earlier this summer containing an interview with Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative of Mongolia. Original can be found here

Recently, the UNFPA released both its “Breaking the silence for equality: 2017 National Study on Gender-based Violence in Mongolia” and a statement on reproductive resource availability by Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA representative, at the National Consultative Meeting on Reproductive Health and Family Planning. In the following interview, Kitahara discusses the progress of Mongolia in the areas of family planning and reproductive health, as well as the responses, challenges, and future plans of the UNFPA in regards to gender-based violence and human rights.

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Young Mongolian entrepreneurs ‘activate’ the economy

Unedited version of an article on the UNDP’s Activated2030 initiative in Mongolia to bolster the economy in a sustainable manner. Original can be found here.

In late 2017, the UNDP launched Activated2030. This program identifies prevailing attitudes and entrepreneurial tendencies among young Mongolians. The UNDP hopes to improve general perception of startup culture and to encourage youth entrepreneurship.

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Bayarlalaa & bayartai

I’m very sad, for today I’ll be leaving Ulaanbaatar.

At the UB Post, I wrote an article on my first impressions of Mongolia for my internship. For that article, I concentrated on my overall experience and addressed it from the a racial perspective. However, I didn’t address many other things that shaped my experience here, such as the people, the food, and outside trips/locations. There was a lot of good and admittedly there was some bad, but overall this has been such an empowering experience that has helped me grow and flourish in unimaginable ways. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make this happen again – you guys are amazing! Here are some highlights of my trip that I feel were key in making the experience what it was.

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Implementing gender sensitivity in disaster relief

This article contains excerpts from my interview with Bjorn Andersson from the UNFPA Asia-Pacific region. It addresses disaster relief in the context of recent flooding in Mongolia. Link to original article is currently unavailable.

Following a few days of downpour this past week, several roads in the Bayanzurkh District of Ulaanbaatar have been severely damaged, raising safety concerns for residents amidst flooding. The capital authorities have issued several notices of evictions to unauthorized families and entities located in at-risk zones, but reportedly, they have refused to move.

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Foreigner’s perception of Naadam and women

Article written for the UB Post during Naadam, detailing my impressions as a foreign woman and addressing the progress of gender equality in the nation as well. Link to original currently unavailable. Picture credits to Sebastian Zusi.

For Naadam, the city bloomed with silk and color. Mongolians wore deels with bright hues and intricate patterns. By the National Stadium, people milled about on the grounds, drifting from tent to tent with khuushuur in their hands. And inside the Naadam grounds, on the field, there were four women. They all wore blue cotton deels and straw-colored hats, and they marched up to the line that marked their position. They raised their bows, pulled back the string, and then an arrow hurtled through the air. They were beautiful and graceful.

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Economic value of dogs for Mongolia

An article addressing strays and the potential benefits of canines for Mongolia. Link to original article is currently unavailable.

I recently went to Gandan Monastery to take photos with a couple of friends. There, we befriended a stray dog. She served as a model for our pictures and as a new friend. However, upon exiting the temple, we were dismayed to see several locals come up to the dog and scream at her. One man even started looking for stones to pelt at her.

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