"Mongolia has really bright future because it has dedicated young people"

Journalist A.Odontuya

2016-06-13 09:30 GMT+8

We interviewed Aubrey Menard, the creator and producer of "Young Mongols" video series. She has been producing this video series to allow Mongolians to tell their own stories and to help the rest of the world better understand what the country is like today.

Why did you decide to come to Mongolia?
I have one-year fellowship to be here. Actually, my work is on mining governance and policy around mining. I graduated the University of Oxford and I wrote my thesis about Mongolia. I do work on policy issues like transparency and anti-corruption. 

How was your experience in Ulaanbaatar?
I’ve had a wonderful year in Ulaanbaatar. The winter was pretty hard. I could have been okay with the cold, but the pollution just kicked my butt. I can picture myself coming back to live here longer, and I hope that when I come back, the pollution will be reduced. 

Overall, it has been great.  I’ve made lots of friends and do things I enjoy like teaching yoga.  I teach at Namaste Yoga Studio, which has been really nice way to connect with people and make friends.  One of the nice things about Mongolia is it is small, so you can get to know a lot of people. I have been here for a year and I have so many friends. I really like that.  

I also love the time that I’ve spent in the countryside. I’ve been lucky to visit places like the Gobi desert and Bayan Olgii—those are memories that will last me a lifetime. 

Tell me about your project Young Mongols?
Since I arrived in Mongolia, I’ve been so inspired by the young people that I’ve met. I wanted to show friends and family about what Mongolians are actually like. So I decided to make this video series.  

What I really want to highlight is just how amazing the young people of Mongolia are. I have interviewed almost 40 people for this video series. I feel like there is still so many smart, young people left. I’m so impressed by how many amazing people there are doing really important work in Mongolia and it gives me so much hope for the future of this country. I think Mongolia has really bright future because it has dedicated young people.

We released two videos and one introduction video so far. Ten videos in total are planned to be released. We have received funding from the U.S. Embassy to do the rest of the videos. The topics we are covering are feminism, the ger district, mining, education, Mongolian-made products, food, media, education, entrepreneurship, and fitness. We have a team of videographers—Dulguun Bayasgaalan, Dimitri Staszewski, and Lennart Kleinschmidt—working to help complete all the videos.   

How did you find your interview subjects?
Lot of them are my friends. When I first came to Mongolia, I was introduced to Zola, from Woman for Change. We have been really good friends all year and I have met her friends—she’s friends with very interesting and hardworking people. It feels like every time I go out, I meet another Mongolian person who is doing a cool project that I become friends with and want to put them in our videos.  

Where can people watch the videos? How do you promote the videos?
Right now, we are hosting our videos on the website youngmongols.com, on our YouTube channel, and promoting them social media. We just finished a new video on LGBT Center of Mongolia, and it has been released with the Huffington Post.   

The goal is for foreigners to see Mongolia and to get a better idea what is it actually like. When I was moving here, people said things to me like,  “If you get electricity and internet, please send us an email to let us know you are okay. “ With all the pictures of Mongolians in the countryside on horses that are so popular, it’s hard for foreigners to imagine how modern and connected so many things are in UB and how smart people are, and the things that they are working on. I want to help share that version of Mongolia with the world. 

When will the remaining videos be finished?
We are trying to finish them within this month but will release them every week or every two weeks.

What is your next plan after the video project?
We will finish the ten episodes. There will be no further actions unless someone is interested and taking them out and continue again.

I will move back to Washington DC and to work on mining governance there. My work is to help countries improve their extractive sector governance.   

We will finish the ten episodes. There will be no further actions unless someone is interested and taking them out and continue again.

Today the Young Mongols, a panel discussion will be held. Can you tell me details about it?
We have seven panelists including Khaliun Bayartsogt, the Gender Equality Program Manager for Women for Change; Badruun Gardi, the founder and CEO of Ger Hub; Batjin – Tomujin academy; Khulan Davaadorj, the founder of CEO Natural Essentials and Lhamour; Dolgion Aldar, the CEO of the Independent Research Institute of Mongolia (IRIM); Amar Bayartsogt from Easy ride; and Lhagva Erdene from Mongol TV. 

I will give an introduction and talk about the project. It is very nice way to close my year in Mongolia. I will talk about my year in Mongolia, and the impact that it’s had on me.   

I will ask the panelists questions, and then audience can ask the panelists questions. We will focus on future of Mongolia. I think these people are future leaders of Mongolia, and so it is exciting to get everyone in the same room to talk about their visions for the future, and how to make that vision a reality. After the panel, a short networking reception will be held. You can see the detailed information from HERE

It is an event for everyone who is interested, right?
Absolutely, though the panel will be conducted in English.

We have used all of our funding, but I would really like the videos to be translated into Mongolian so that Mongolians can watch them. I am hoping maybe we can find volunteers to translate the videos. 

Thank you for the interview. 

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