Alumni stories

20 Days visit equals 2 years study

For the last several years, I have been working for the Mongolian Government on the issue of Water Policy. The last 4 years were very special time for Mongolian water policy and legislation as well as for the general development of the sector.

In September 2008, when MP L. Gansukh was appointed as the Minister of Nature, Environment and Tourism, he started “Water Years of Mongolia,” launching nationwide policy renovations. During these years, I worked as the Secretary General of the National Water Committee which coordinated water Policy and Legislation Renovation and developed New National “Water” Program.

Bozeman, Montana Kent Madin Mon H Consul Hospitality. USAIC Major General Walsh and his Colleague in DC

One day, Ms Susan Russell with Ms. Tuul from the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia came to meet with us at the Ministry, and I dis-cussed the New Policy on Water and renewed National “Water” Program. After our meeting Susan said to me “…you need to visit the U.S. for water issue.” I said “I will be happy if there is a chance.” After a month, she called to me and said she has nominated me for the IVLP program which is supported by the U.S. State Department. I gave her some information about myself and list of what we need to know and to see in U.S. And forgot about this for the next several months. In late November, I received an e mail from the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar informing me that I was selected as the First Environmental Sector IVLP visitor from Mongolia.

When I arrived in Washington, DC, on January 7, Mr. Batsaikhan (Bata) Ochirbat who was to be my English Language Officer met me at the airport and the following day took me on a tour around Washington D.C. and to its main cultural Monuments.

From Monday my IVLP really started. During the orientation meeting, I learned they had planned 55 meetings plus a couple of social and cultural programs for me. To be honest, after hearing my schedule, my first thought was “how am I going to get behind this big program?” However, soon after I learned that it was needless for me to fear as with the combined help of the staff of the IV Office of the State Depart-ment, and the Meridian International Center plus my English Language Officer, the program was not only on schedule, but also actually very enjoyable and fun. During my IVLP, I met about 200 Government Officials, Water specialists, Professionals, Scientists, representatives of NGOs and Journalists. There was one unscheduled meeting which became one of the high-lights of my visit: meeting with Mr. Joseph Biden - Vice Presi-dent of U.S. in Philadelphia when I was participating in Martin Luther King Day event. This day is called “Day of National Service” and we went to a Secondary School where we pre-pared about 60,000 packages of food for people in emergency situations. Vice President Biden came to this event to give opening remarks then he walked around all the volunteers talking and shaking hands. When he saw that our section was working hardest, he came to us and started talking. When he learned that I was from Mongolia on an IV program, he was very happy and he shared with us about his visit to Mongolia last summer. The meetings in Washington were all very impressive and useful.

During those meetings, I tried to introduce about the water situation in Mongolia and study the possibility of further Cooperation in the field. During my IVLP visit, I also visited four states: Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Montana, and Arizona. Each state was unique and different than one another and gave me an opportunity to get different information and see different practices. These four states covered four different natural zones, four special communities including Indian Tribes. It was interesting to learn that each state has its own Legislation on Water Consumption. It was equally interesting to know that the water agreement made with the Indian Tribes more than a century ago is still up-to-date today. After my visit to Philadelphia, I went to the Constitutional Memorials. There were really exciting monuments and memorials of American Constitution and the History of the development of Democracy. One could see that these monuments could really express key points and nuances of American history and democracy. My overall impression after traveling through America for three weeks was that law is strong and meaningful and all activities are guided by the constitutional values, something I wish was the same in Mongolia.

If I summarize my IVLP experience in few words, it will be … 20 Days Visit equals 2 years Study.