We are delivering the Tsagaan Sar experiences of expats working and living in Mongolia. Our guest is Ms.Piper Anne Campbell, United States Ambassador to Mongolia.
Ta Sar shinedee saikhan shinelev uu?
Saikhan shinellee. Saikhan shinelsen uu. I had a great Tsagaan Sar.
How many years have you been working and living in Mongolia?
This is my third Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia. Each year as I meet more and more Mongolians I had more personal connection with Mongolia and with Tsagaan Sar.
Please share with our readers your experience with celebrating Tsagaan Sar?
For us Tsagaan Sar starts quite early, because here at the U.S. Embassy we have a Deel day each year. We invite all our staff both Mongolian and American to wear their deel for a day and to have cultural presentations and conversation about Mongolian culture. So we celebrate quite early and our Tsagaan Sar is still ongoing, because next week at my house we will honor one of the important aspects of Tsagaan Sar, which is honoring elders. We do that by inviting, reaching out to Mongolians who used to work at the U.S. Embassy, who have retired and we consider them as our Mongolian elders and each year we have celebration with them. For me Tsagaan Sar is still ongoing.
What was the most exciting or difficult thing during the Tsagaan Sar?
My strongest memory of Tsagaan Sar is when I went with Mongolian and foreign friends to celebrate Tsagaan Sar with rural herder family. We had some lovely time there feeding animals and as we were leaving we saw the basket, which the lady from the house used to collect the animal manure for the firing and other purposes and she had a special rake, which she uses to pick up the manure. She showed us how quickly and easily she can pick up the manure and catch it in the basket on her shoulder. We all got to try to do that as well. I was throwing manure everywhere, but it turned into a bit of a game. We all enjoyed it very much.
What would you advise your friends coming to visit Mongolia during Tsagaan Sar?
It’s little bit challenging, because Tsagaan Sar is such a wonderful holiday. Certainly for people who are interested in observing the culture or seeing very colorful sight: colors of a deel, wonderful hats and observe wonderful tradition around Tsagaan Sar are something that is great for any foreigner to observe. But Tsagaan Sar is so much about family and so much about visiting your friends. That it is little bit hard to penetrate from the outside. And my first advice for anybody thinking about coming to Mongolia for Tsagaan Sar would be that you need to make connections with Mongolians, so that you experience the real Tsagaan Sar.
Of course it is a family gathering and one has to be familiar with somebody in the family, in order to attend and experience the customs and traditions.
I would like to ask about the next approaching celebration in Mongolia, which is International Women’s day, which is widely celebrated in Mongolia. What are your observations of this may be not so widely celebrated internationally holiday?
I think it’s fascinating that the International Women’s Day is celebrated quite widely here in Mongolia. I’d like to say that this is the recognition of women in Mongolia, in Mongolian society, politics and business. I had such wonderful interactions here with Mongolian parliamentarian and with Mongolian women in NGO and business community. I’m constantly impressed by their vision of where and how they want to engage with their male counterparts to move Mongolian society in a democratic direction.
How would you rate involvement of young women in Mongolia in every aspect of life?
Certainly there are so many young women actually, who are very engaged, very involved. I think it is too easy to get involved in sort of straight statistics, to say, where women are fifty percent of the population, why aren’t they fifty percent of the parliament or fifty percent of the CEOs. We are rather far from that place, from that point in the United States and Mongolia. We need to focus on how to create opportunities for women and men for moving forward to make the choices about their personal and professional lives that work best for them.
Have you encountered more female or male counterparts working in Mongolia?
Statistically I certainly have encountered more men, whether we are looking at the diplomatic core or the Mongolian government. But I would say that I ‘ve worked with phenomenal women, who have an outsized impact in Mongolia.
What were your personal experience with meeting very young and talented female CEOs running businesses in Mongolia and who are doing an incredible job?
The U.S. Embassy works closely with Mongolian Association of State Alumni (MASA) and many of the most impressive women who I’ve met in Mongolia are alumni of different programs in the United States. And whether it is interviewing, just this week, a young woman who is interested to enter the U.S. Millitary Academy - West Point, or speaking with alumni of MASA, there are impressive women who were Eisenhower Fellows in the U.S., or even having been involved with women featured on magazines on entrepreneurship in Mongolia. I had a wide opportunity to engage with women, who are very active in different sectors in Mongolia.
This is quite impressive that we have young and energetic women who are doing something for the future and society.
It is great. The fact that a business magazine can devote an entire edition and feature many different women working in different sectors speaks very highly for Mongolia.
Thank you very much for your time and I would like to ask you to greet our readers for Tsagaan Sar and Women’s Day?
Saikhan shinelsen uu. This year we are entering year of the sheep and I hope for everybody it will be positive and prosperous year. I wish all the best to your readers.
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