Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Mongolian Dream: Namjil Sodnom

Namjil Sodnom, 56, is an English Language Instructor at the National University of Mongolia who has devoted 24 years of her life to teaching students English. She is the mother of two kids and currently lives with her husband.

What is your biggest concern in life right now?

I’ve actually grown used to it, as I’ve always had a small salary since the 1990s, but I’d have to say that it still remains the biggest concern in my life today. Why? Because it hasn’t been raised at all since 2010, while the prices of consumer goods have increased radically since then.

What would you like to see for your children in 20-30 years in Mongolia?

As a citizen of Mongolia who was part of Mongolia’s society from the 1960s until now, I don’t want to go backwards and I don’t want to stand still in the same place every day. However, I’m afraid of going forward as well, because our living standards are decreasing, and the ecology and environment of our country is getting worse day by day, for me and the Mongolian people. I feel very pessimistic when I see today’s Ulaanbaatar and its environment.

I want my children to live in a Mongolian society where Mongolians earn the same salary in a safe and clean environment, just like in America and England. I hope Mongolia will get better soon in terms of everything, as our society is following these countries.

I wish for my children to live in a better environment and society than what we have now, even if it is not perfect. They need inexpensive food and basic consumer goods. They need permanently lit streets and I don’t want other people stealing their purses on the street, or in buses and shops.

If you were a top decision maker in the country, and you could change only one thing, what would it be?

I would eliminate the rivalry and competition between the Democratic Party (DP) and Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) and make them work together for the people of Mongolia, if I had the power to make a step towards improving the situation in our country.

The MPP has a lot of experience in governing the state and the DP should cooperate and exchange experiences instead of discriminating against or defaming each other because of party memberships, to improve society, especially the economic situation, as it is in very critical condition right now.

Narrowing the gap between living standards of the rich and the poor would be an important action as well.

On a scale of one to 10, how happy would you say Mongolian society is?

I would give it a five. How can Mongolia’s society be happy when we breathe air full of hazardous gas and pollutants, when we have to cross a road with a massive puddle of waste water that’s run down from a ger area after the rain, or get onto a bus with a new pair of shoes that almost get torn or become obviously dirty when we exit? Almost nobody here says, “Excuse me,” or “I am sorry,” these days. When we were young, people in society were not very sophisticated or modernized, but still they knew when to apologize.

On the other hand, we couldn’t find what we needed in shops before. Now, there is an abundance of various goods.

How do you think this age will be remembered in the future?

It depends on what Mongolia’s society will look like after 20 years. If the same leadership and governance will be functioning in Mongolia 20 years from now, no big changes will be brought about. Twenty years is a very short period of time for a country’s history, so I’m not expecting very big differences if we talk about 20 years.

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