Cheuk Keun Li - General Journalism Projects in Mongolia
Flying over Mongolia in the morning clear blue sky, an aerial view provided me to see miles upon miles of hilly grassland and beautifully scattered streams marked along the landscape. The experience started at this moment. The excitement had rushed through my body like a shot of adrenaline. I landed six o’clock in the morning. Stepping out of the airport the freshness of the summer air gave me the extra push not to fall asleep on route to Ulaanbaatar.
I had opted to volunteer as a cameraman within the Journalism category. Projects Abroad placed me in a TV station that is relatively new called Education Channel. As the name suggests, it is mostly an informative yet friendly station broadcasting programs mainly aimed towards the youth. During my two month placement I was fortunate enough to travel around Ulaanbaatar city, in the Education Channel van, equipped with its own driver. Though I must add, on occasions the driver can be overly wild with the steering. You will find within minutes on the road, as I have, there are no rules or etiquette.
Nevertheless, traveling to different locations most days was a real bonus. My colleagues were wonderful. They really cared for my welfare and interest. Just two days before my departure, some of my closest colleagues organized a dinner gathering at a Mongolian barbeque buffet restaurant. That was a special evening and made my departure a little harder.
There were many volunteers around. Everyone met almost every night in pubs and karaoke bars. For a quieter evening out with a smaller group, cafe shops were the place to be. Amongst the volunteers we organized excursions over the weekends in our free time. There are so many adventurous activities to choose from – my most memorable adventure was a 3 day horse trek in the open steppes with two other volunteers. It was quite a remarkable experience.
One incentive that will certainly make me go back to Mongolia in the future is my host family. They have given me so much laughter during my stay; it is irresistible not to visit them again. The family have a strong bond and are very united. It was a pleasure watching them interact on a daily basis. They have shown me what true hospitality is.
In order to have a long lasting experience, one must be willing to accept and appreciate things as they are. Otherwise, one could find themselves occupied with minor problems rather than concentrating on your placement and neglecting the fun. I consider my time in Mongolia to be a life changing experience. It has influenced me to change the way how I deal with daily life challenges. Every day I find myself reminiscing about the places and people I have met.
I believe going to Mongolia was one of the best decisions I have made and would absolutely re-live it. Of course this was only made possible from the warmth given by my host family, the witty and humorous work colleagues, volunteer friends and Projects Abroad staff. Combined, they have given me an experience that will be very hard to forget and which I will cherish for life.