In September 2014, we openend a learning center in Dalanzadgad in the south of Mongolia. Since its opening, the “Global Passport Center” (its local name) has continued to grow and prosper. In this blog post, Carsten as CEO of BOOKRIDGE interviews Battuul Alexander, Head of Learning Center, about the progress the center has made.
Carsten: Battuul, your learning center has grown quickly since the opening in September 2014. When you look at your students today, what makes you proud?
I think that since the opening ceremony my learning center has grown fast in many different ways. Now, many students and communities have got to know Global Passport as a learning center and English library. I am happy that they have positive mind about it. When I think about my old students they have improved their language skill and personalities. Also they studied to work in a team, how to do their language practices as well as a role model.
Many things made me proud since the opening. Parents of students are satisfied the courses we offer to them. My students have participated in a few competitions and contests and were awarded. The last happiest news is that two of my students who had attended my concourse preparation were placed 3rd and 5th of all students in the whole province. I think that it was my first result of the training. This encourages me to work hard next time. I am proud of me too 🙂 Day by day the number of the students or customers is increasing at the learning center. As well as step by step we are improving to teach, manage and to do many kinds of marketing activities.
Carsten: You reached 100% sustainability within a couple of months only. What key factors contributed to this financial success of your learning center?
Battuul: Well, actually it wasn’t just a couple of months I think. But during the last months we tried to be a comfortable and sustainable learning center in the town. Of course, we could. There are some important factors for being successful. For example, there are nice classrooms and English books and teachers who really have the desire to teach and work at the learning center. The second thing is that I know many people who work very successful and are well known in the town. Also I used to work with many volunteers and did some volunteer projects here in English. People know about the learning center from their friends and relatives or co- workers.
The third thing was to have free activities and to keep it going well. Another thing was the quality of the teaching and courses. We really want the students to study very well and always encourage them to learn all their best. I am always proud of our English teacher Mungunuu who is really honest and polite and the best assistant. I am so happy that she is here with me.
Carsten: What are the current challenges which you are facing?
Battuul: Of course we have challenges every day, because it’s life. You know that Mongolian women are very strong and energetic. We have some days which are very hard and not easy to teach. Sometimes we feel sad and tired but I don’t have the right to have rest and be tired 🙂 You know, it is a private business, if we don’t work hard, we won’t get money for our life. I have much responsibility for many people. I have to pay salaries, loans, all expenses and etc. To tell the truth, we really want to relax just a few days. If we don’t work, no one pay for us. Luckily, national festival is coming soon so we’ll have a rest. Of course there are challenges at the learning center and our personal life. But challenges make us strong I think.
Carsten: We are very proud that you have already started paying back the loan which you were given by the BOOKBRIDGE Social Business Fund for your learning center. How do you manage to grow and pay back at the same time?
Battuul: I am glad that you encourage me all the time. Thank you for your nice words and supporting. Encouragement is the best medicine for me as young person. When I got this project, I decided to do or work all my best. Sometimes we don’t get much money from the courses, especially in the winter and holidays, but I thought that I should pay it on time. So I started to pay back the loan. I know that it is a very important part of the Capability Program loan for me.
Many people believe in me and gave their money. I hope that in the next five years, it will be paid back to BOOKBRIDGE. As I can see, I have many opportunities to have extra projects and work with BOOKBRIDE in next years. One thing I want to do is to study abroad and get knowledge about education management and new people as well as new culture. Since my university graduation I wanted to study abroad. But I started my life project to have family and children. Did you know that I started to work when I was 18? During the three I had been working at the sewing factory and entered university. End of the year I am going to take IELTS exam to get scholarship for master degree. I have already chosen my university where to study. But it takes few years. I hope that you can help and support me in advance.
Carsten: In September, your learning center will turn ONE. What is your birthday wish for your learning center?
Battuul: In September, my lovely learning center will turn ONE. It seems very fast. We are planning to do a mobile library and mobile training to small villages. I want students and people who are living on the countryside to study English and enjoy books. After summer training in Zavkhan we will plan for our first birthday. Please give us an idea for celebration. Exactly at this time I have many wishes, but soon I will let you know.