November 1, 2011

US-Mongolia Exchange Celebration

On November 1st, 2011, United Planet hosted a celebration for the Emerging Youth Leaders program featuring exciting stories from students, teachers, host families and program managers. The program was held at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts located in the quaint Boston South End neighborhood.

Dave Santulli, Executive Director of United Planet, launched the program with deep gratitude to the U.S. Department of State and iEARN for the opportunity to facilitate such a unique exchange program; “how better for two such different cultures to get to know and understand each other? I am so thrilled to meet the students, teachers, families, and sponsors who’ve worked so hard to pull this program together”.

Helen Smith, Executive Director of the New England Press Association, followed. Smith, an experienced journalism teacher, shared her experience of teaching journalism to Mongolian participants. Throughout their exchange, Smith taught participants about the role of freedom of expression, press, and democracy in journalism; as well as the techniques of writing news articles, how to conduct interviews, and much more.

Attendees then heard from a host family who conveyed the joy of hosting a Mongolian student. Surprised at how closely they had already formed a bond with their host-son, the host family exclaimed, “ Sukhbaatar became the older brother my son never had!” They then expressed gratitude in having the opportunity to experience a new culture and share their home with a Mongolian student.

Similar sentiments were expressed by representatives from Boston Public Schools, including teacher John Cheeseman, International Coordinator Bethany Woods, and all fellow exchange students from Boston. As part of their presentation, Bostonian students shared a picture slideshow of their exchange experience in Mongolia.

Finally, Aqeela Jogee Cutter shared a brief message on behalf of iEARN and the U.S. Department of State.

The evening ended with a beautiful Mongolian melody sung by both Bostonian and Mongolian exchange participants.