To learn about community involvement and the value of simple living – this is the heart of the GATN programs of YMCA of Mongolia.
More connections can even be forged through its rich cultural exchange. Participants can stay with Mongolian families in the gers (yurts/traditional felt tents) to learn about Mongolian rural life. These Gers are what the Mongolians have lived in for centuries. In fact, through the Ger building activity and Naadam Festival, participants will not only help to build their own Ger but also learn about the traditional sports of Mongolia namely wrestling, archery and horseback riding. In these local communities, more opportunities to volunteer are available like cleaning, painting and other minor repairs.Working closely with the partner orphanage where children aged 8-16 years old are housed and cared for by a local pastor and his family is a precious experience for the participants. You can help in several ways such as doing green projects within the property of the orphanage or helping in the repairs and upkeep of the building. Yet still, one of the most significant things to do is to spend time with kids through craft projects, games and other learning activities. A deeper sense of fulfillment dawns when one gets to connect with the local people and affect their lives even in a simple way.
Teams that visit Mongolia can connect with public schools to learn more about the state of public education. Efforts to support the schools and its students are carefully determined by the school leaders and the YMCA. Noting from past experiences, these span from giving school supplies to children to helping in building and caring for the school dormitories. Likewise, teams may also conduct English Camp at a local public school outside the city. You can see from this experience how students love being able to practice their English and improve their learning with the volunteers.
These are only some of the activities, a GATN program in Mongolia offers. Apart from this, experiencing Mongolian life through hiking various mountain routes while cleaning up garbage on the trails and learning about recycling and other environmental issues impacting the country is an enjoyable method implored to make this GATN program nature and heritage sensitive. They may also conduct other activities like Horseback Riding, Kayaking and expeditions in Gobi Desert and Khusvgul Lake.
GATN programs can be hosted by YMCA of Mongolia at any point of the year with each season bringing a different angle of the beauty of the country and a wonderful opportunity to be engaged in the communities. Not only will they know more about one of the last countries in the world still having a significant nomadic community, but they will be able to go deeper into the heart of every community programs YMCA of Mongolia offers.
Through its GATN programs, YMCA Mongolia aims to educate the visitors and the locals of issues that largely affect communities in the country. Most of all, the program emphasizes learning about teamwork, communication and thoughtful cultural exchange.
For YMCA of Mongolia, they wish participants to leave with a better understanding of the country, themselves and their place in the larger world and in their own communities.