Volunteer and Intern in Mongolia
- Location: Ulaanbaatar
- Accommodation: Host families
- Local languages: Mongolian
Despite recent economic growth, over 30% of the population of Mongolia lives below the poverty line and volunteer work is crucial to improving the lives of many Mongolians. Whether you are on a college summer break, gap year, career break, or volunteer vacation, you can make a difference in Mongolia on our worthwhile volunteer projects and internships.
Mongolia is a large country about a third the size of Europe sandwiched between Russia and China on the Asian Steppe. Most of the country is vast, undeveloped wilderness with few roads or communication links, and the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, is the only major settlement in Mongolia – over a third of all the people in the country live there!
The economy is based on agriculture and mining, with increasingly strong technological industries. However, most people outside the capital are nomadic or semi-nomadic and depend on subsistence herding and crop farming for survival. English is slowly becoming the second language of Mongolia, having replaced Russian as the main foreign language taught in schools. Volunteers have an important role to play in Mongolia, whether they are helping to care for children in orphanages and care homes, or teaching English in poor schools and language centers.
“Mongolia is a vast land of excitement and opportunity which never fails to make an impact on its visitors. Ulaanbaatar itself is a unique blend of cultures, opening up to the Western world following years of Soviet control. You will find plenty of evidence of Oriental influences here, along with a very modern resurgence of national identity. Mongolians today pride ourselves on two things: our beautiful countryside and the warmth of our hospitality. You will never forget the time you spend in Mongolia, nor the fantastic people that you meet along the way!”
Where You Will Live in Mongolia with Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad Mongolia is based right in the center of Ulaanbaatar where most of our projects are based. With the majority of our host families and projects being concentrated around the center of the city, there is a very strong volunteer community to get to know.
As a volunteer in Mongolia, you will be living in one of the world's most remote countries. It does not take long to get outside of Ulaanbaatar, where you will find that “roads” marked on maps are not really roads and “settlements” can be small and temporary.
Ulaanbaatar has many contrasts. Soviet-style high-rise blocks sit alongside traditional tents – known as gers – which are dotted around the city. Modern businesses thrive, while Mongolians walk the streets in traditional dress. Around a third of Mongolians belong to nomadic or semi-nomadic herding tribes, and away from the capital the lifestyle is much the same as it has been for centuries. The modern Mongolian is a descendant of Genghis Khan, a son or daughter of the Communist era and is living in a 21st century ancient state where Buddhist priests drive in Japanese jeeps across desert roads to their distant monasteries.
If you want to immerse yourself fully in Mongolian way of life and culture, you can participate in our Nomad Project, which is based around two hours west of Ulaanbaatar out on the vast Mongolian Steppe.
Travel and Sightseeing Opportunities in Mongolia
Life in Mongolia is never dull. This is a destination for adventurers, with a history that encompasses Chinese dynasties and Soviet Communism. It’s hard to imagine that this ancient state was once home to the people who ruled the largest empire the world has ever known - at one point stretching from Indonesia right over into Austria.
There are spectacular sights across Mongolia – from rugged and bio-diverse mountains to the wilderness of the Gobi Desert, famed for its dinosaur bones. It’s a land crammed with ancient history and culture, with beautiful monasteries and stunning archaeological finds.
Travel opportunities might take you across the Steppe, where you could stay with a local nomadic tribe in a Ger. The unusual experiences you’ll have will really make the trip worthwhile. You may find yourself gathering camel dung to put on the fire. You will certainly be riding horses, and drinking the traditional Mongolia drink airaag, fermented milk which can be either alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Even in Ulaanbaatar, you will soon realize that it’s quite a different kind of capital city. There are modern restaurants, but there’s a lot of tradition too. Try the local food, especially the mutton. It’s also easy to get a quick fix of the country life even while you’re based in Ulaanbaatar. The capital is flanked by the “four holy peaks,” and with forests and grasslands full of animal and bird life, you are very close to breathtaking hiking territory.