Young American Fulfills Dream of Volunteering in Mongolia
21 year old Logan Hamilton from Idaho, USA, had always wanted to volunteer in Mongolia. Despite delays in obtaining a Mongolian visa, Logan did not give up on his dream and recently spent one month volunteering with Projects Abroad at the sports project in Ulaanbaatar.
After studying the language for three months back in the States, it was heartbreaking for Logan to not get a visa for Mongolia. However, he persevered and his dream eventually became a reality. “I initially thought I wanted to teach English or something like that but I found Projects Abroad on the internet and stumbled upon the sports teaching program in Mongolia,” he said.
Logan’s placement was at School #13, a state school providing education to over 800 children in the western part of the city including the local ‘ger’ district. Logan worked from 9am-4pm every weekday. His duties consisted of assisting sports teachers, teaching his own physical education classes, and teaching basketball and its basic techniques to the children.
Logan was given a lot of responsibility and many teaching opportunities, and the children were eager to learn as much as possible. “Kids often came up to me and asked me for advice or tips on how they can exercise to be more in shape or lose weight. I don’t know how much I helped but it was awesome to interact with them and to make a lot of friendships. I miss them already,” Hamilton said.
“I learned a lot from this amazing experience. The biggest things were to be patient with myself and with the kids as well. I don’t speak Mongolian perfectly. Sometimes I didn’t know certain words because the language course I took wasn’t geared toward sports. So the experience taught me to be patient,” he said.
“Also it made me understand that learning is a process. It doesn’t just happen when I want it to. Kids learn slowly and it takes some time. I learnt more and more to forget about myself and to think about others.”
Aside from his volunteer placement, Logan enjoyed living with a Mongolian host family and experiencing the Mongolian culture. “It’s very interesting. When I first arrived, I was shocked at how different it was but after the first day, I really felt comfortable. People are very kind. The culture is wonderful and living with a Mongolian family was a great thing.”
Other activities he participated in included spending time with local staff at School #13, traveling to the beautiful Mongolian countryside and participating in events organized by Projects
After having spent one month in Mongolia, Logan advises future volunteers to have a good attitude and “give everything you’ve got. You only get as much as you put into it. Don’t think about yourself, think about others, think about how and in what ways you can help them. Be optimistic, be charismatic and forget about yourself for
a little while.”
Although he only spent a short time in Mongolia, Logan had lots to share with future volunteers by the end of his placement. “I served in the church mission at home and I guess I learnt from it that life is not always about pleasing ourselves. That was definitely re-emphasized here,” he said. “By thinking less of ourselves and serving others, you’ll come to see that you will find yourself.”
Read more about Teaching Physical Education in Mongolia.