Hello UGRADs! My name is Temuulen Enkhbat from Mongolia. It has been exactly eight months since my exchange studies at Ball State University finished in December 2021. This experience was one of the most impactful events in my life in three ways. It gave me the reassurance of my passion, reflection on my journey, and the opportunity to explore diversity.
During my four months of stay, I formed meaningful connections with some of my host university professors, friends, and classmates from all over the world. One of them was with Mr. Nihal Perera who has been working at Ball State University for 25 years as an Urban Planning Professor. I approached him during our department orientation meeting to get to know more about his work. He welcomed me with a warm heart and a big hug. Since I have only experienced a high hierarchy culture between students and professors before, this cultural exposure at Ball State was surprising and inspiring for me. He was my mentor and a friend who showed me the different colors of America including refugee camps, religious temples, and ethnic communities in Fort Wayne, IN. Our discussions over lunches and the countless lessons I’ve learned from him still apply to my values and priorities as an Urban Planner.
Academically, I have become more enthusiastic about my major and developed the courage to make some changes back home. Then, I shifted my career from working at a start-up company to a non-profit to pursue my long-time passion which is to work for the development of under-planned areas of Ulaanbaatar, my capital city. Currently, following my passion for urban planning, I am working as a researcher at GerHub, a local NGO. Our mission is to find innovative and creative solutions for the common problems that our communities face. GerHub built Ger Innovation Hub in 2019, a community space that is a rare yet much-needed commodity in our capital city. The concept and vision of the community space have intrigued me enough to conduct research on building community centers throughout the Ger areas. My paper won first place in the Academic Research Conference at the Department of Geography of the National University of Mongolia, which is where I’m finishing my studies.
GerHub has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $100,000 for our community space, located in the heart of the ger areas in Ulaanbaatar. We have been running various workshops across education, health, and other capacity-building initiatives among community members. It has been great seeing how much synergy and enthusiasm there is for this place and seeing it come to life.
My parting words to you are that international exchanges give us the chance to explore and enjoy the moment. Be open to any opportunities that can help you to see different places and make connections!