Mongolia’s 2013 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund project, “Empowering Rural Mongolia,” also known as Rural Young Leadership Program, concluded on April 19 after providing two weeks of intensive leadership and professional development training to 18 young fellows from 14 provinces of Mongolia. The participants represent a variety of sectors including private business, local and international NGOs, the hospitality industry, civil service, medicine / health care, and social work.\
Empowering Rural Mongolia exposed young and active professionals from rural provinces to current hot topics and gave them an opportunity to meet and talk with the most forward-thinking civic, government and business leaders and activists in Mongolia. The program kicked off on April 6 with a visit to the Chinggis Khan Statue Complex. The schedule included team-building activities and leadership training and ended with a lecture about the Mongolian Democratic Revolution given by Ch. Enkhbayar, a close friend of Mongolian democratic leader Zorig. They met with many distinguished guests, many of whom are U.S. alumni, such as Country Director of The Nature Conservancy Ms. Enkhtuya, Young Women for Change Executive Director Ms.Zolzaya, Development Solutions Executive Director Mr.Bat-Orshikh, Chairman of the Business Council of Mongolia Mr.Byambasaikhan, Minister Oyungerel of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Minister Oyun from the Ministry of Environment and Green Development, Head of the Arts Council of Mongolia Mr. Jantsannorov, Member of Parliament Mr.Ganbaatar, Member of Parliament Ms. Batchimeg, Member of Parliament Mr. Batbayar B, Civil Society activitist Ms.Sukhjargalmaa, Mandal Insurance President Mr.Ganzorig, and Zorig Foundation Executive Director Mr.Badruun.
The program created a new network among rural and urban young professionals to exchange ideas and promote urban and rural collaborations. The main goal for this project was to provide young rural professionals with the tools they need to make positive changes in their communities.The participants had hands on leadership seminars and workshops from the Lecture Center and Ganabell Center. The topics covered in these seminars included CV and resume building, public speaking, making healthy choices, and staying inspired in the workplace.The young leaders were able to visit and a get deeper understanding of a number of organizations. These organizations include APU Trading LLC, NTV Broadcasting LLC, Go Help NGO, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, Khan Bank, Chamber of Commerce of Mongolia, Water Supply and Sewage Authority of Mongolia, Oyu Tolgoi, Open Society Forum, Intermed Hospital and Salkhit Wind Farm.The participants had opportunities to enjoy cultural events such as an evening discussion with Mr. Jantsanorov about leadership and the arts and a performance of Giselle at the Opera and Dance Theater.The rural participants also had the chance to socialize and network with current urban peers in the Ulaanbaatar Young Leadership Program of the Zorig Foundation and to develop mentor-mentee relationships with YLP alumni association. The participants further solidified these networks with mini-internship and shadow opportunities following YLP alumni.
The participants were divided into groups and implemented small community development projects. The projects included:
- Warm Hearts Project- The project participants spent time with kids at the Verbist Orphanage. The participants provided food for the orphanage, which is running low on funds, toys for the kids, and helped furnish the dance hall with a professional mirror for the students studying dance.
- My Dream Profession Project- The project participants worked with School #37 to provide students with introductions to different professions through lectures by participants, as well as thorugh admissions brochures and through providing more information on the national universities.
- Our Toys, Our World Project- The project participants worked with special-needs School #29, with the hearing impaired elementary class. To the first grade class, the participants provided specialized toys and equipment needed to work with children with hearing impairments.This project was a great success and the alumni team and Zorig Foundation hopes to make this an annual program that will create a network of strong and dedicated rural leaders.