In April, Daniel set out with his team on his learning journey as an entrepreneur in Mongolia. In this series of blog posts, he shares what he has experienced and taken away. Enjoy reading about his incredible journey to another world.
When we officially opened the “Golden Gate Learning Center” in Khovd, Mongolia, over two hundred people came to attend – it was magical!
Buyanaa, the center’s designated manager and teacher, proved to have much more to offer than just her tutorial skills. Grown up in Khovd, she knows everyone. Together with her husband (who also knows everyone) and their four children they were already a tremendous marketing machine. Even while we were hard at work prepping everything, word of mouth brought curious people to the center’s doors. They got a first glimpse at the classroom, the play and relax room, the study room – and the library with countless books (everything from beginner levels to Harry Potter and from Dr. Seuss to Shakespeare).
We were like bees, flying in and out of the center’s hive, to meet people, to pick up things from the print shop, to get paint from the market and and and. Then Wednesday arrived. We were as ready as we’d ever be … and had prepared for everything … or so we thought. You see, Mongolia sees very little rain and the forecast had led us to believe that it would continue as we’d come to know it. Blue skies, sunny, even t-shirt balmy … but when we looked out the hotel windows on Wednesday morning, everything was shaking out there, literally. Dust clouds blew past, lamp posts were rattling, people leaned in against the wind. Hoping for the gusts to vanish by noon, we made our way to the learning center.
There, we quickly saw the first victim. We had created huge advertising banners for a billboard across the street … but, while the frame of the billboard was still there, the banners had been torn and had apparently blown away, just a few shredded bits were still feverishly waving at us from up there. Sigh. Nothing to fix on that front. On we went, prepping, final bits and pieces – blowing up a hundred balloons, creating an arch – which we could barely raise and had to strap down like crazy because of the wind. The billboard banner was found and instead we fixed it outside the learning center’s doors. When noon came, the wind really did begin to slow down a bit. By one o’clock the first students already started showing up. We offered lottery tickets and games to pass the time until the official opening.
By 2pm the courtyard was packed, the wind was gone, the officials were seated and the program began.Speeches, a local singer, then a traditional musician, then students performing “We are the world”, then two Mongolian dancer girls. All of us got to say something, too and those saying something in Mongolian got the most applause (and laughs). The program ran smoothly and swiftly and soon we were at the ribbon cutting ceremony – snip, done! We were stationed everywhere, showing the library, showing the rooms, the activities – and we also acted as bouncers, making sure the we didn’t have all of them rushing the center at once. It was great to see how excited students were, but also how respectul and truly interested. On the spot, many of them already signed up to take lessons.
Was it a success? First, I couldn’t be more hopeful for the learning center from everything I’ve seen and felt – and second, the proof is in the numbers! We needed about 40 students to sign up in addition to those previously already confirmed … at this point a whopping ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY have signed up! Continue reading here.