Bolor Jamiyandagva – Mongolia
Educator, Activist, Ambassador
The Ulaanbaatar region of Mongolia has seen Paleolithic hunters of wooly mammoths and Genghis Kahn’s nomadic tribes on horseback, conquering the largest contiguous empire in human history. Their descendents live today in gers (yurts) or in the modern capital city with its modern skyscrapers alongside ornate Buddhist temples. For sixty-six years, the Mongolian People’s Republic existed as a Soviet satellite, “fomenting religious and political persecutions that were devastating and unfathomable,” Bolor Jamiyandagva says. “Yet, industrialization and development also took place.” Bolor has lived in Ulaanbaatar most of her life and attended the National University of Mongolia, School of International Relations and Public Administration.
With the collapse of the USSR, Mongolia experienced its own peaceful democratic revolution with a move into a free market economy in 1990. “At the national level, the conflict and differences of the two ideologies of communism and democracy are still grappling with each other,” Bolor says. “The old and the young don’t see eye to eye, and political corruption is dividing the nation.”
She says that while an overwhelming majority support democracy, “communism is not hated. People understand the bad and the good that it brought.” Older generations are in the minority, and they were the ones immersed in communist teachings, she says. “The younger generations have difficulty understanding their perspectives. In my community, there are many conflicts arising from urbanization, corruption, and wealth disparities, which lead to increased levels of discrimination.”
Bolor feels fortunate, however, since her family surrounds her with “open-minded people who are ready and willing for change to happen.” She deplores the migration out of Mongolia by young people who have lost faith and given up, heading for “developed countries rather than deal with the corruption, lying, and deceit.” She stands against their abandonment, stating, “I am a young person who has dreams, hopes, and the will to change and make my country better.”
Bolor fears a psychological hardening. “I wake up each morning with terrible news. Sometimes I can’t believe the horrendous acts against humanity that are taking place; sometimes I am shocked, and other times I feel a sense of normalcy around the situation. The last is the most disturbing, to have the feeling that bombing and death in a certain place is a common occurrence and that nothing can be done about it. How can we as global citizens allow this to continue?”
Bolor is one who has chosen to make finding solutions to humanity’s problems her life’s work. In high school, she volunteered service with Amnesty International, Mongolia and graduated with an Academic Silver Medal award from the Governor of Ulaanbaatar City. After entering the National University of Mongolia, she joined the SIRPA Model United Nations, AIESEC Mongolia, and the Student Round Table (SRT) of Mongolia. SRT is an international student organization branching into five countries of Northeast Asia. It hosts annual conferences where students can meet to discuss pressing regional issues and exchange ideas promoting international cooperation, peace, and mutual understanding. Bolor appreciated the opportunity to be with like-minded people and learn more about the intricacies of international cooperation. She also found an opportunity for an academic exchange program in Japan.
Bolor joined the Japanese branch of SRT at the Akita International University in her sophomore year, learning their culture and participating in their organizational activities. She was also greatly involved with their Community Outreach Services and volunteered through her year in Akita. Maximizing her experience, she explored Akita, visited Tokyo and other cities in the Tohoku region, and studied all the while, making the Dean’s List of Honor Students that year.
Returning to her university in Ulaanbaatar for her junior year, she found that SRT had only four members left. “I was crestfallen,” she says, but she inspired the group to persevere and was elected president. She quickly established incremental goals on a timeline, beginning with recruitment through new and interesting activities and strategies. The organization grew into a close-knit community. Bolor felt that she’d taken a crash course in leadership, but she also felt proud.
Additionally that fall, she founded an English Speaking Club, volunteered to help organize a TedxUlaanbaatar event—a six week project she would repeat the following year—and facilitated group sessions of the Youth Development Program through Oyu Tolgoi LLC and AIESEC Mongolia. Then in the spring she participated in the 25th World Model United Nations—organized by Harvard University and the Asia Pacific Conference of AIESEC—in Seoul, South Korea. Returning from that event, she founded with several friends a venture they named Intellect Compass. She served as a board member and as the program coordinator. They were chosen as winners for their venture which became an NGO and received grant money for their “Unlocking the future” venture in Seoul, South Korea. She also received a Resolution Fellowship for Socially Responsible Leaders through The Resolution Project, a non-profit organization.
Bolor was one of four students selected to attend the Women’s Leadership Program through the Mongolia Study of the United States Institutes for Student Leaders. So, during the summer break of 2015, she traveled to Lawrence, Kansas for a month. The program engages young women from across the globe in emerging issues, cultivates their leadership skills, and inspires greater community service and involvement—“a great eye-opening experience,” according to Bolor.
After a two-month break, she was off to Germany for another year abroad through the Erasmus Areas + Program at the University of Gottingen. While there, she traveled to Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Hannover. At the semester break, she traveled to Netherlands, Austria, France, and Hungary through the Erasmus Exchange Program. She also visited Rome, Florence, and Pisa to participate in the 26th World Model United Nations organized by Harvard University.
Upon return to Ulaanbaatar, she worked for over two months as an intern for the Ministry of Finance of Mongolia and then took a job in her university’s School of International Relations and Public Administration as Foreign Student Advisor, remaining active in her many organizations. Upon graduation, she earned her degree in international economic relations, a Best Student Award, and an Academic Gold medal. The Mongolian government also awarded her the President’s Honorary Best Student Award. Well, done, Bolor.
“I envision my role as an educator, human rights activist, and an ambassador,” she says, “with the aim of implementing projects that can help resolve conflicts first in my community and nation and then in the world.”