Alumni stories

FLTA program

Did you know that the FLTA program is one of the most rewarding pro-grams that you will ever be awarded to do in the U.S.A.? My name is Munkhbileg Janchivdorj, I work at the University of the Humanities as an English language teacher.

In 2009, I was granted the most precious opportunity to be a part of the FLTA program as a teaching assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, Hon-ors College. FLTA program is truly worthwhile opportunity granted to those who are interested in promoting their culture to the American stu-dents and teaching their own language, in my case Mongolian language. It has been really educational experience that helped me develop person-ally by being a part of the FLTA program. I would say there are a lot of things that I learned with the help of this program, all of which modified my knowledge of America, my view of the world, my personality and my skills in different areas. As for me, in many ways I was given a chance not just to teach but also to take classes that I was interested in. I chose classes for teaching methodology, linguistics and some other interesting subjects which were really beneficial for my future career as a teacher.

Got into trouble by saying to my friend that the gorillas. My two roommates, Emily and Levi in the common room  looked like people.

It was not only a chance to teach and take classes at the host University. It was also a chance to have an exposure to an English speaking country. I would like to share my very first experience talking to an American. It was when I was about to go through the customs at the Chicago O’Hare airport. The inspector was a Hispanic man and he asked me “Where are you staying?” I could not answer right away because I thought I should be very specific when I say my address. So I wasn’t sure what to say and hesitated for a while. He got angry at me for not answering immediately. He quickly took my document and saw that I was doing the FLTA program and said that I should at least tell him where I would be staying. And then I said “oh, I will be in Pittsburgh.”This was a really uncomfortable first experience. To make things worse, I had left my cashmere cardigan.

I couldn’t go back to get my cardigan because I had already passed the customs by the time I realized it. From this experience I got the impression that Americans really liked to stick to rules and that the rules are to be followed at any time. At the host University everyone would expect me to comply with the rules about what I can do and cannot do while I am in the U.S.A.. As a Mongolian, obviously my opinion of America would be blurry and disorganized. Therefore, actually going there to experience it for myself was a really great opportunity for me to understand why they do some of the things that they do, and why they say some of the things that they say to others. I learned so much from even the slightest encounters.

As I said before, my world view changed just by being able to go to America. I stayed at a house with some of the most eccentric mix of people. The shared house was located in the Jewish community. One of my roommates became my best friend because she would spend hours with me discussing everything. I would talk to her about anything and practice sharing my opinions. It was so new to me to be discussing some of the problems. I started to learn many things from those discussions. Before, I had never been able to truly accept myself as who I was, as I thought I wasn’t good enough for anything.

I thought that life was not fair because everyone commented on my actions or activities and because of that I had to adapt my actions accordingly. Let me give an example to make it clear. I was told by people that I walked like a “girl” many times as I was growing up which I thought was so strange because I felt very embarrassed whenever people told this to me. As a result I would try to walk just because they told me so and tried so hard to fix myself. I always did that to change or adapt to their idea of walking properly. It was something so small, but for me it was a big problem. The most valuable thing my roommate taught me was that I shouldn’t do things just because people think it was good or important and that I should not adapt myself to their comments. A person’s individuality was the most precious which we should adore and cherish. Now when I look back, I miss those discussions with my roommate. I would like to emphasize her role in my life that helped me realize how I really should live.

FLTAs of France, Spain, Russia, Turkish and Mongolia

Now I am writing about my impressions on living, working, and studying in America as a Mongolian. Living in the U.S.A. is so hard because I should always be ready for unexpected expenditures. It may look like living in America would be a dream come true. However, if you live there yourself for a longer period of time, you will really understand it. You need to be qualified to hold higher positions. Your qualifications are the most valuable thing in keeping your job. You need to keep your skills sharp to override those around you and win recognition. Studying the U.S.A. is as hard as living and working in the U.S.A. Because you are always expected to be on time and prepared for classes. The teachers have high expectations from their students. It is really nice to have a teacher expecting you to do better. Therefore, keeping up to their standards is very difficult. Every-thing you do should be very well thought of and prepared. By being a part of FLTA program, I came to an un-distending that when abroad, I’m my culture and people see Mongolia through me.

One of the many benefits of being a part of this program is that you will be able to share your culture to totally different group of people who have no idea about Mongolia. Another good opportunity that you have is that you can do travels around the U.S.A. to see and experience the different parts. As for me, I visited the Niagara Falls and watched it with my own eyes. It was truly an experience of lifetime. I also played on slot machines to see how lucky I was. There are numerous other opportunities that you can do by going to the U.S.A. through this scholarship program.

Finally, the coordinators of this program were so organized and helpful. They are always ready to help with any problems that you might have. You will not have problems related to the FLTA program as long as you per-form your duties. Overall, I would like to say that Fulbright teaching assistantship program is one of the great-est opportunities that was ever offered to Mongolians.