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Mongolia draws adventurous volunteers

Heather Hermann

By Tegan Chapman

An increasing number of foreigners from around the world are choosing Mongolia as a place to work and live for a variety of volunteering projects.
People from as far away as England, America, and Australia are heading to the country to find out more about the real story behind “Outer Mongolia” – while also gaining new skills.
Travellers on gap years, graduates, or people on career breaks, are opting to travel to UB not just as a tourist, but as a volunteer, to learn about the life of people in Mongolia and the challenges they face.
Using firms such as New Choice and Projects Abroad, these travellers see volunteering as a great opportunity to share ideas and make new friends while gaining or furthering a skill they may already have or wish to develop, as well as being given the chance to immerse themselves in Mongolian life and culture in a way they would not be able to as a tourist.
Volunteering projects are available in teaching, care, medicine, midwifery, nursing, business, journalism and law and human rights.
Kiera Hopper, from Queensland, Australia, has recently finished a two month journalism volunteering project at television station NTV.

Kiera Hopper

The 23-year-old, who organized her project through New Choices, said, “I am a passionate videographer and photojournalist and I wanted the chance to carry out this role in a different environment.
“The reason I adventured to this barren and exotic nomadic land was that I have a passion for diverse cultures, travel and adventure.
“I also wanted to experience and have a taste in their inspiring journalism, to have the chance to witness some of their captivating events and to hear some of their remarkable stories.”
For some people volunteering offers the chance to add something to help them stand out in the job market.
Politics student at Oxford University in England, Alyssa Middleton, is currently working as a policy advisor for Amnesty International as part of a six-week volunteering program.
The 19-year-old said, “Getting a job is tough, and I know when I finish university I will need something that makes me stand out from the rest, and I thought that volunteering in Mongolia would set me apart from everyone else; as well as allowing me to gain invaluable experience, and see a completely new and different place I might not have otherwise seen.”
While volunteering abroad is seen by some as an exotic long vacation, it’s not always an easy ride.

Alyssa Middleton

Student nurse Heather Hermann, 25, from Chicago, USA, worked at the Maternal State Hospital #3 in Ulaanbaatar for three weeks as a volunteer.

“I went to Mongolia to be able to do something very few people do, no one goes to Mongolia on vacation and I wanted a truly unique adventure,” she said.
“While I had some troubles adjusting, and to be honest, really hated the food, I’m still glad I volunteered. It was very hard work, and I think it has helped make me a stronger person. I have no regrets.”
Most people volunteer because they want to give something back to the world, but in reality, the volunteers benefit just as much as the local communities they are helping.
Heather added, “Spending three weeks in Mongolia was an unforgettable experience and I feel like I learned a lot more about the local environment than I would have done as a tourist, living and working with locals, who, obviously, have a much better knowledge of the area than any guide book.”

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=5293

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