Schoolworks Goes to Mongolia
(click to enlarge)
View of ger district from The Achlal School
New library
Library interior
Design for new library
Plan of library includes kids' art exhibit space
Second floor play space and art room
Approaching the Border Guard children's camp
The playground site
My honorary Border Guard badge

For completed project go to - Projects/Learning Environments/Achlal School

We went to Ulan Batur, the capital of Mongolia, at the end of September to meet with various schools and NGO's about arranging some projects.

The Achlal School, is located in the ger district on the outskirts of the city. (A ger is the traditional round felt house used by nomadic herders.) Poor families come from the countryside to settle here. Sometimes schools and other social services follow but the conditions are still very basic. We met with Azaaya Davaanam, the director, to organize a playground in the schoolyard for next summer but during our visit found a more pressing need for the school, furnishing a newly completed but empty and, as yet, unusable library building. This project will be aided by students from the School of Architecture in U.B. and funded by Amistad International, a wonderful aid organization founded by Karen Kotoske.

We also met with Ruth Pulaski of the Mongolian Children's Aid Foundation about helping to design creative furnishings and a playground for the Lotus Children's Centre, a new facility for orphans which will be built next year. We hope to talk further as the project progresses.

And most surprisingly, one afternoon we found ourselves sitting in a ceremonial ger with the Commandant of the Mongolian Border Protection Service and his staff learning about their summer camp for the children of border guards. They spoke passionately about the importance of children in Mongolian culture and invited us to organize a playground at the camp for the kids who travel from the far reaches of the country to play with each other for a few weeks each summer.

Why Mongolia, you may ask? My wife, Susan Antenen, is working for The Nature Conservancy, assisting the government to create a conservation plan for its vast grasslands. She lets me tag along sometimes.