Same but different: European Students in Mongolia

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Students from Europe and Mongolia explore cultural differences and similarities

Dhruvi, Ellen, Alexandra and Sayra are students at Franconian International School. In August, they took a trip to Mongolia to realize a project with young people. In this post, they write about their impressions during the trip.

In a two week trip taken by us four Franconian International School students, many aspects of Mongolian life, culture and tradition were explored. BOOKBRIDGE enabled us to travel to different towns in Mongolia in order to take part in a cultural exchange. The age of the participating children ranged from three to sixteen, giving us the opportunity to interact with mixed opinions and ideas.

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Children in our education center in Zuunkhaara create their own books

The object of our trip was to create a book under the title of Same, Same but Different, Different Lives, in which our different lifestyles are compared.

The first benefit of our trip was the possibility of experiencing Mongolian culture first hand. This already began on our first night, when we were introduced to traditional Mongolian gers, tent-like structures which are used in the everyday lives of many Mongolian citizens. When we traveled to the countryside, we saw a ger being used by a local family known as the Nomads. Their different lifestyle was a pleasure for us to experience, and would definitely contribute to our book project Same, Same but Different, Different Lives.

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Alexandra, Dhruvi, Sayra und Ellen discover Mongolian cooking during lunch in a ger (yurt)

Other cultural aspects that we encountered would include the traditional instruments, on which the children in Bulgan preformed for us. The assortment of instruments were new for us all, making the children’s preformance very interesting and beautiful.

Lastly, we explored Mongolian cuisine and tried various local specialities, including mare’s milk (erq), steamed bread (mantoh), Kuushuur, and many more. The taste of many of these dishes startled us at first, but as we grew accustomed to them, they became yet another aspect for our cultural book. In conclusion, we familiarized ourselves with the culture of Mongolia, which we hope to contrast with German culture in our forthcoming book.

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Discovering books: Dhruvi and Ellen

Interacting with the children was of course an essential part of our visit. We first traveled to a town by the name of Zuunkhaara and about a week later journeyed to the town of Bulgan. Here, we distributed questionnaires, which will also be given to children in Germany. Their different answers will then be the basis of our book.

Being with the Mongolian children proved to be much fun for all of us, and we entertained them for several days by playing games and introducing our own countries.

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