Alumni stories

Fulbrighter Story: Zoljargalan Gantumur

After a successful Fulbright interview in July 2010, I had to take a several hard exams such as TOEFL, GRE in following few months in order to get the scholarship. Scores of the exams were not good as I wanted and I was still not informed the result of the program until the end of June. Some of the candidates said that they got their result and preparing to go to the U.S. and I almost lost my hope to get the Fulbright scholarship, however one day I got a call from the U.S. Embassy! After years of effort to learn English and find an opportunity to study in abroad, finally I became a Fulbright Student in July 2011. It was the brightest day of my life and it was like a dream come true!

True adventures waited for me when school year begins! Master’s program in Social Work was quite busy for me. I really enjoyed my first year internship at the Giffen Memorial elementary school under the supervision of Mr. Calderon who is a school social worker. At first, I was so afraid that I may not be able to understand the kids fully or they don’t understand me, however, everything went well with the support from my fellow interns, supervisor and teachers at the school.     

A second year internship was more challenging. I met with great students, professors and experts while I was doing my internship under the IAP. A social work service for old adults is a new field in Mongolia, so I had a lot of things to learn and see. At my internship, my supervisor Ms. Renee Benson and Ms. Grit Carotenuto helped me a lot to improve my professional skills and gave me opportunities to meet people who inspired me to pursue my goal!

Finally, I would say that Fulbright program was eye-opening experience for me in terms of professional growth. Furthermore, I realized that contributing my knowledge and experience for the development of my country is not copying or trying to do exactly same thing that I see in abroad because every country is unique in terms of culture, history, and development. Thus, making a realistic analyzes on success and failures of each country and creating new and culturally sensitive approaches based on these analyzes is a real method to adopt and apply best practices from the abroad.

In the end, I would like to thank Fulbright program for helping me to improve my professional skills which I am still sharing with other social work students and professionals in Mongolia.  And also gave me an opportunity to meet great professors and fellow students at SUNY, work with amazing experts at different agencies, and meet my lifelong friends who are in Albany, Indonesia, Korea, and different states and cities in the US.