Alumni stories

Delaware: Days of exploring national security

My name is Bayasgalan.S. I am researcher and lecturer at School of Foreign Service NUM majoring on International Relations and National Security Policymaking. It is my pleas-ure to share my experience of participating in the SUSI program and visiting the United States in the alumni newslet-ter. I participated in the Studies at the United States Insti-tutes (SUSI) program on U.S. National Security.

It is needless to say what a golden chance it was for me to be chosen to attend this program and having an opportunity to take lessons on U.S National Security issues from experi-enced professors and meet with diverse professionals in the field. The unique advantage of the SUSI program I attended was that it gave me a chance not only to hear some theoreti-cal issues but also experience them in practice by visiting places of implementation.

During the program, it was also interesting to learn about the national security issues of other countries from the 20 other participants from all over the world. I had often been interested in the national security issues that "small" countries like Mongolia face and have often been argued that smaller countries have little to fear in that area. But for Mongolia, as a unique country with its own history, culture and civilization, the issue of national security is very important.

The program was full of interesting and sometimes challeng-ing events starting from when I landed at O‟Hare Interna-tional Airport in Chicago. For a novis traveler like me you can imagine what a hussle that was trying to go through the customs at this huge international airport and hurrying to catch my next flight to Philadelphia where at last I reached my final destination and was deeply relieved to see some-one waiting there to pick me up.

After arriving to New Ark, a small city between New York and Washington DC, not far from Philadelphia ,I found out that almost all of the military and national security Institu-tions are located alongside of Atlantic coast. Maybe be-cause this area has historical importance; where first 13 colonial states were formed, or it is because they are closer to Washington DC, I guess. After all, the State of Delaware, where I spent most of my days, is proud of being the first State which declared independence in the history of the U.S. Its pride was evident when I had a chance to visit places of historical importance, for example battlefield of civil war and war for independence.

Knowing that all states of the U.S have their own tax rules, my most pleasant surprise was when I found that the only state in the U.S without any tax is Delaware. I enjoyed the cheap prices there and was especially grateful to the De-partment of State for choosing Delaware for this SUSI pro-gram when I visited the book stores. One of my biggest goals of participating in the SUSI program was to collect as much reading and research materials on the national security topic as we have not many publications on the topic in Mon-golia and bring them home for my own and my students studies. People in Delaware were proud that one can find almost all brand name companies there.

In Philadelphia, city close to Delaware, we enjoyed visits to many interesting places such as Museum of Arts, which im-

pressed me a lot. Also I had fun trying many sea food which I could hardly find in Mongolia.

When I was in Delaware it was middle of the winter. In Atlantic coastal areas there were huge amount of snow which sometimes caused schools and universities to close. I think some Americans prefer to leave their vehicles where they are, covered with snow, because nobody can move them in heavy snow.

The climate in Atlantic coastal area was warmer compared to Mongolia. And I think that was a problem because the heavy snow on the road started melting at day and at night it became solid which made glaciers on the road by next morning. When we went from hotel the road was so dangerous that made even the most comfortable vehicles shake, sometimes I was worried that the tires may break because of the sharp frozen ice. It seemed to me that now I understood why people don‟t want to use their cars in winter.

During the program we visited many places of importance starting from battlefield ending with defense and national security institutions. Among them the most impressive for me were Ministry of Defense (known as Pentagon) and West Point.

During the program we had many interesting lectures con-cerning U.S foreign policymaking and national security issues. The lectures were led by prof. Mark Miller who became my close friend and adviser on research projects.

We had great opportunity to listen to major professionals, researcher, professors and high ranking officers. The lec-tions included variety of issues on national security including international terrorism, immigration, food safety and na-tional defense.

I was very honored to have an opportunity to give a lec-ture on Mongolia‟s national security policy. It did not sur-prise me that I had to introduce Mongolia to those repre-sentatives from other countries, who had almost no knowl-edge about what country Mongolia is. However, I was happy that this provided me with an opportunity to intro-duce Mongolia to whom it was unknown.

Professors at University of Delaware didn‟t have much understanding about Mongolia either and they jokingly said that after listening to my lecture they have "concise knowledge of Mongolia within a day".

Upon the completion of the program we were granted certificates by an official from the Department of State.

Finally, I would like to say that I greatly appreciate the U.S. Embassy and the SUSI program organizers for giving me this unique opportunity to know more about the U.S. and make international friends and build professional ties.