Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mongolian ambassador visits IU

Bulgaa Altangerel, the Mongolian ambassador to the U.S., spoke last night about Mongolia’s history, economy and future.

The talk was titled, “Socio-Economic Development of Mongolia, Past and Present.”
Altangerel began his speech with an overview of Mongolia’s history. The country was a socialist state under Russian control but gained independence after three days of peaceful protesting in 1990.

“There are many critics about socialism in Mongolia, but we have reached very great successes in education during our time as a socialist government,” the ambassador said. “We have reached almost 100 percent literacy in the population.”

Altangerel also spoke about current economic problems in Mongolia.

“These past 10 years have really been a hard time for the Mongolian economy,” he said. “It is in a transition phase.”

The hard times have not discouraged the ambassador. He said he has high hopes for the economy due to the country’s abundant sources of coal and gold, and noted that
the country has one of the fastest growing GDPs in the world.

The ambassador emphasized the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Mongolia for the sake of Mongolia’s economy and safety.

“The relationship with the U.S. is very important to stop the blasts between China and Russia,” Altangerel said.

According to the ambassador, the U.S. spent $538 million in Mongolia last year while Mongolia spent $3 million in the U.S. He said he hopes to improve the trade relations
between the countries.

He hopes more American companies will come to Mongolia and that the government will make improvements to its roads, pollution problems and solar energy use.

According to Susie Drost, the executive director of the Mongolia Society at IU, it is no surprise that Altangerel made a visit to the University.

“It’s the only university in the U.S. where you can obtain a degree in Mongolian
studies,” Drost said. “It’s the only university that teaches the country’s language.”

Drost said the school’s connections with Mongolia should be largely attributed to Herman B Wells.

“He believed that if the country was important enough, it didn’t matter how many students were interested in learning about it,” Drost said. “We should be teaching about it.”

Teresa Nichols is a graduate student studying Mongolian language and heritage.

“I love how friendly and welcoming Mongolians are,” Nichols said. “It’s a very interesting country.”

Ambassador Altangerel is appreciative of the University’s interest in his country. He ended his speech with his hopes for further cooperation between Mongolia and IU.

“I want to encourage the exchange of our professors, encourage the exchange of our students and encourage the exchange of our studies and the creation of new studies,” Altangerel said.

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