Category Archives: Mongolia

To the future


Me, Anand, and TK. Nathan is behind the camera.

It is already December, which means that it is almost the end of 2013. It also means that I am almost halfway through my volunteer stint with AIESEC Mongolia. Increasingly the last few weeks, my teammates and I have been talking about the future. What are we going to do next? What does the future hold? What are we going to do after AIESEC? What are we going to do after Mongolia? Is what we are doing now worth it?

We’ve been discussing these issues on an on-again, off-again basis, but was nice to get some outside perspective as well. Anand was one of the first “non-AIESEC” people that I met in Mongolia. TK, Nathan, and I hung out with him at his flat for a pizza and movie night, followed by a rather intense discussion of the possibilities that await us after AIESEC. This was a discussion that I definitely needed.

I suppose that by being in Mongolia, we are all pursuing a rather unconventional, and perhaps less comfortable, but nonetheless still very rewarding journey. It’s okay to create your own path, but it’s also okay to return to a more set and comfortable life afterwards. Focusing on career is fine, but you also have to keep in mind the other aspects of your life as well.

Anand is leaving Mongolia at the end of this month. Cheers to Anand. Here’s to the future!

November Wrap-Up

It’s been a while since I posted. November has been a bit crazy, so I will provide some brief updates!

Winter is coming


Note that it is still coming. It hasn’t arrived yet. Apparently, this is not yet winter.

Career Week

Choindon, team leader for the Career Week Organizing Team, getting interviewed on Mongolian National TV!

Choindon, team leader for the Career Week Organizing Team, getting interviewed on Mongolian National TV!

TK and the Organizing Team for Career Week worked extremely hard to organize Career Week, which took place last week. Media appearances on national TV, as well as events in four participating universities meant that the event was successful.


Interview Day - assessing applicants for the Global Community Development Program!

Interview Day – assessing applicants for the Global Community Development Program!

In conjunction with Career Week, we were also recruiting students to go on internships abroad through the AIESEC Global Community Development Program. Recruitment is still ongoing, with another Interview Day happening next week!

New Intern!


Annisa’s birthday! Photo by Annisa

Annisa, our new intern from Indonesia, has started her Teaching Internship with Zokhiomj University. She celebrated her birthday with us just a few days after arriving in UB.


A few weeks ago, I was in the office delivering training sessions to some students who recently joined AIESEC. During a discussion about first impressions, one of the new members mentioned that I needed to make myself more approachable.

In many ways, I got the same feedback from other people, including the MC team here in Mongolia, as well as the MC team in Singapore.

Two of my MC teammates mentioned that they were scared to apply for the Mongolian MC based solely on the “professional” picture I submitted as part of my application, as well as the content of my application form and YouTube video. Peggy mentioned that she had the impression that I would get into fights with her; but then both of them mentioned how their initial impressions differed from reality.

I have noticed over the last few weeks that members have a tendency not to talk to me when they have questions, even when it comes to exchange. This has led me to think: am I really that unapproachable?

I know that, at times, I give off the impression that I am serious and hardworking – and I hope for a majority of the time, the impression does match reality. But am I perceived to be so serious to the point that people don’t like talking to me?

Perhaps it is because I am unusually quiet when I am around people that I don’t know. It is true that I am seen as one of the quieter members of the MC.

Perhaps it is because I am serious? When people show up late to a meeting, I tell them that they need to show up on time to the next one. I always make it clear that punctuality is important, but perhaps it is being taken the wrong way?

This has been challenging to deal with, as I do want to project myself as hardworking and serious, but at the same time, I want people to feel like they can talk to me at any time. I’m not too sure how to respond or to deal with this issue right now, but at least I know that approachability is something that I need to work on.

Always there when you call

One of the unfortunate aspects of my job is that I am on-call, 24/7. Whether I like it or not, despite blocking off 10PM-7AM as my official “sleeping hours” on my Google Calendar, I am always on-call. The last two weeks, I have been starting the workday at 7AM and ending at least at 9:30PM. Skype meetings with partner companies and intern candidates have taken place anytime between “business hours” – which is really any time. I made a commitment to better balance my life when I started this MC term, and it seems like I am failing massively in meeting this commitment.

Our membership recruitment period is drawing to a close this week, so hopefully we’ll return to a somewhat normal and acceptable lifestyle, along with the appropriate sleeping patterns, soon. I’m hoping that the members we have recruited will make us proud. The feeling of empowering them to take over from us by next year will make being on-call 24/7 worth it.

Winter is coming

So just a few weeks ago, it was fairly hot here in UB, but now it is getting colder. Much colder. When I walk outside, my hands and fingers start to get extremely cold. It’s a good thing I brought winter clothes from Vancouver, but I’m probably going to need to buy some more. When the weather gets super cold here, I’m not sure how getting to meetings and traveling around UB will work. I’m not too keen on taxis, especially with what happened last weekend, so if it gets too cold I’ll have to stop my habit of walking everywhere and start using the bus system, which surprisingly isn’t too bad.

September is almost over, it is getting colder. Winter is definitely coming.

Surviving an Extortion Attempt

After Spark Up! Conference at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, I, along with two other members of the national team (Nathan and Dominic) and three members of the conference team (Ujika, Lana, and Tep) took a taxi to a karaoke place in Sansar.

The taxi ride went without incident; we put boxes in the trunk of the taxi as we didn’t want to waste time going home and then going to Sansar in order to store our laptops and conference stuff (mainly flip charts, markers, paper, and leftover sandwiches), we just wanted to hang out with the rest of the team straight away.

When we got to the karaoke place at Sansar, the taxi driver decided to cause trouble. He accused one of us of breaking open one of the wires(?) next to the seat belt located just by the windshield of the back seat (I’m not even sure if I’m describing this part of the taxi right…). Anyways, the premise of his accusation was that Dominic’s bag, which was placed on top of the dashboard at the back seat of the car, hit the wire and broke it.

Of course, the bag didn’t even move, and if it did, everyone in the back seat would have noticed. Therefore, it was obvious that the taxi driver was causing trouble and was trying to extort money from us. The wire was broken before we got on the taxi. He wanted money for the “damage” that we caused, and if we didn’t pay, that he would not let us take our stuff out from the trunk. Initially, I suggested to just let him take our stuff (who wants two-day old sandwiches anyway?), but then it turned out that one of us had a laptop in the trunk, so that wasn’t an option.

Luckily, Lana, Ujika and Tep were there to argue with the taxi driver in Mongolian. Nathan, Dominic, and I were obviously useless as our Mongolian language skills are extremely limited. Eventually, they got a police officer involved, who sided with us.

After the incident, one of our Mongolian friends later told us that it was because we were foreign that taxi driver decided to “try his luck” with us. Luckily, we had Lana, Ujika, and Tep with us. I shudder to think what would’ve happened if it were just us foreigners in the taxi!

Spark Up! Conference

Spark Up! Conference took place this weekend at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, and was AIESEC Mongolia’s first major event for this term. This event was geared towards returning and new university students throughout Ulaanbaatar, and was organized with the idea of getting them to realize the importance of taking advantage of their university experience, and to get them to learn more about AIESEC and its programs. The conference was held primarily in Mongolian, with little to no translation into English, which makes Spark Up! my first ever conference that I attended that was not in English, with no translation at all (well frankly, it was geared towards Mongolian students, so it made sense to have it in Mongolian).

The conference was fun, and it was great to see the delegates leave on Sunday night happy, and eager to learn more about AIESEC. However, the most important part of the conference was the post-meeting. During the post-meeting, the conference team took the time to discuss what could have been done better, and what can be done better for similar events held in the future. I wasn’t completely involved in organizing the conference and delivering the conference sessions; however, I did observe that it was quite difficult for the members to deliver, in large part because of their lack of experience. For almost all of them, this was their first time working on an event. I know that it wasn’t easy for them, and I’m sure that they learned a lot of things during their experience in organizing this event, which will make them better prepared in organizing events in the future (both in and out of AIESEC).

This is me speaking briefly during the conference. Taken from the AIESEC Mongolia album.This conference was not meant to be an entry point into AIESEC – that’s what Boot Camp is for, which will take place this coming weekend. Boot Camp is meant to serve as the official entry point into AIESEC and its programs – including the exchange programs. I’m definitely excited to see how everything will turn out.

I haven’t really had weekends this month, so I’m definitely looking forward to October. Work-related activity won’t really die down next month, but at least I’ll have most of my weekends back.

Stressful September

The last few days and weeks have been fairly challenging. The matching process for our interns has pretty much preoccupied my attention – there are many qualified interns on, but the difficult thing is ensuring that they are interested in coming to Mongolia, and that they actually qualify for the appropriate visa that the host organization will be bringing them on. We’ve made progress in that there are applications being received and interviews are taking place, but the difficult thing is ensuring that candidates have the appropriate expectations not just of their potential internship, but also of Mongolia as well.

Recruitment is happening at the same time. We have our engagement event taking place this weekend, and our recruitment conference taking place the week after. If this were any other AIESEC country, I think that recruitment would have been easy to organize and manage, but because our organization is doing this in Mongolia for the first time with big ambitions, it is a bit harder. We are slowly but surely changing minds about what we can do and what we can achieve. Hopefully, everything will work out well.

First Contract Signed

581565_10153208712430541_1951993044_nJust wanted to share a quick update: signed my first ever contract in Mongolia! Officially closed a deal with an IT company here to bring in a Project Management Intern through the AIESEC Global Internship Program. The intern will be working with this company for six months, will get a monthly salary, and accommodation, so it is a really good deal! Really excited to deliver on this account, and even more excited to meet the intern that will eventually work for this company! It’s not about the money or the numbers, it’s about the lives you impact.

Changing Minds: Getting Ready for Recruitment

AIESEC Mongolia's leadership team working hard during our National Recruitment Meeting!

AIESEC Mongolia’s leadership team working hard during our National Recruitment Meeting!

August was a tough month. Having only 3/5 members of the national team out of the country for almost three weeks was be difficult, especially for the 2/5 members who stayed behind. While in Vancouver and certainly other chapters worldwide routinely expect to operate independently to run member and intern recruitment for the start of school, this expectation is new in Mongolia.

Part of the national team’s focus this year is to normalize local chapter operations – in other words, to get our local chapters to shoulder on more of the responsibility in getting things done. Changing mindsets is a difficult undertaking, and there were times where I felt like I had to give “tough love” and push members more than they were used to. I think that over the next few weeks, we’re definitely going to see more pushing happening.

We did see some progress in changing minds though – the local chapter leaders are starting to gradually assume more responsibility, especially as more of our members return to Ulaanbaatar for the start of school. It is awesome to see AIESEC Mongolia’s leaders excited – now its just ensuring that we all stay on course.