Möngöntsetseg


Basic information
Interviewee ID: 990908
Name: Möngöntsetseg
Parent's name: Natsagdorj
Ovog: [blank]
Sex: f
Year of Birth: 1959
Ethnicity: [unknown]

Additional Information
Education: [unknown]
Notes on education:
Work:
Belief:
Born in: sum, Ulaanbaatar aimag
Lives in: sum (or part of UB), Ulaanbaatar aimag
Mother's profession:
Father's profession:


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Translation:



The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia

Byambajav -

Well, I thank you very much for accepting my invitation and coming to give an interview. Then, before starting the interview there two issues to clarify with you. First, information and facts contained in your interview will be used as a basic research material by scholars and researches after 10 years or 20 years. Second, it may be used as reference material in preparation of broadcasts on history on TV and radio, in publication of articles in newspapers and journals as well other means of public media. So would you give us the right to use your interview for these purposes?

Möngöntsetseg -

I’ll give it.

Byambajav -

Thank you. If you wish in this interview you can keep your name in secret or else you can use without concealing it. What do you think?

Möngöntsetseg -

There is nothing to hide.

Byambajav -

Well, thank you. Let’s now start the interview, so first of all introduce yourself and please tell us in detail about childhood and about all the stages of your life as well as the organization you work, the reason you work here, how is work and life?

Möngöntsetseg -

Well, my name is Natsagdorjiin Munguntsetseg, I was born in1959, in the 1st Maternity home of Ulaanbaatar, my family has three children, I am the eldest one, I have a younger brother and another younger sister so with my father and mother 5 of together lived. My childhood was just like the others I attended kindergarten and entered the 10 year school, in 10 year school you become a member young pioneer’s organization, I was the senior of my class and apparently I was also a good student so when usually you were enrolled in the rank of pioneer in third grade, together with one other child I was made a member of young pioneers in the second grade, the other one was a boy called Battemer, after a year all students of my class became young pioneers so it went like this and when we became members of the league (of revolutionary youth), two children were called to the Pioneers’ Palace, the neckties of those selected from the schools were removed and the badge of the league were pinned on their breast, so I also before my classmates together with another child from of our grade had become I had become a member of the league together with a classmate of mine. After finishing the 10th grade I participated in entrance exams just like the other children of that period, it was an established practice that all give these exams.

Byambajav -

Yes, it was.

Möngöntsetseg -

The entrance exams were a compulsory, everyone had pass them, almost no one got unsatisfactory evaluation. All graduates of the 10th grade had to give these entrance exams those who collected the required amount of points in front of others received the best assignments, assignments were given according the points and when all the assignments were distributed the rest who could not get an assignment would remain without any assignment and had look for some employment. I received an assignment, may by the account points received, to study in Russian language faculty of the Teacher training institute, the faculty of Russian language and literature. When I now recall at that time we really did not choose ourselves a profession and prepared specially for the entrance exams for that very purpose. Since it was socialist period every one was studying what we ought to and probably the points I had collected were sufficient for requirement of that very profession, however, I myself liked Russian language very much and it suited me nicely, so I received the assignment and in summer, went for the summer labour…

Byambajav -

Was this a training pratice?

Möngöntsetseg -

No, it was labour. When you become a student you had to go for autumn labour, that year when we finished 10 year school, it was announced on radio: “Those who are entering institutes and the University in the first year, those who have passed entrance exams and have been registered as students should come to their respective institutes on that day of August”. So when we came to our institutes we were sent to various places to summer labour. Actually autumn labour started very early in August, so every year students had the obligation to go for summer and autumn labour, we never really anything about it and we went for the autumn labour. Students of Russian language spend their fourth year in Irkuts for language training, then in the fifth year when we came back, Russian language faculties of the University and the Teacher training institute were merged and those who were studying linguistics had become what is now known as the Humanitarian institute, at that time it was the institute of Russian language, I graduated from that institute. S I entered the Teacher training institute but graduated from Institute of Russian language teachers of the University, it was its exact name.

Byambajav -

Аа, yes, yes.

Möngöntsetseg -

(laughs) When I graduated it had become such an institute. After the graduation, all the graduates were usually sent on assignment to the rural areas, (0-06-35) sent from the cities to rural areas. Then my classmates issued an appeal addressed to all the graduates let’s work in rural areas, the appeal was printed in newspapers. Since, we were going voluntarily, we were given the opportunity to some extent to choose the aimag we would like to work, so I chose Dornod aimag, the reason I had chosen Dornod was that I thought it was more or less like a town that it was what I heard from people, so I decided to go to Dornod but did not go there, (laughed) because it was very hard to live in rural areas as for my 2 younger siblings, my mother and father they had their work here, my mother was working in a pharmacy, my father was working in the economic institute of Academy (of sciences).

Byambajav -

Yes. yes.

Möngöntsetseg -

My father is an economist, he is a scientist and researcher, he working on scientific research, so I staying at my home, then someone from the Ministry of Education called me at home and said that I must go otherwise there could be problems. I agreed and said “yes”, “yes”. When the school year started in September I did not go there so almost in November, I went to Dornod accompanied by my father and started teaching in the 1st 10 year school of Dornod.

Byambajav -

So your father brought you there?

Möngöntsetseg -

He escorted me. So I arrived in company of my father so I was led to the teachers’ …to a dormitory for the children who arrived from the countryside on the back of the 10 year school, it was one story building, I had no acquaintances there, that is why was directly led to a room of the dormitory on the instruction of the Director of school. My father brought me to the room and left. In the evenings they took roll call of the students. this way they took the account of students living in the dormitory. A boy from the 10th grade was the mentor of the dormitory. He did not know that I was a teacher(0-09-13) and thought I was a student who transferred from the city and he compelled me to stand in the line up of the evening roll call, oh no he did not compel me but he told me that I should line up for evening and morning roll calls, do exercises, run and march etc, so he spoke with me for sometime and left, I did not pay any attention to him. Then the next morning my first lesson of Russian was in his class, the 10th grade, 10A, so that child was astonished to see me, for he did not guess I was a teacher. (0-09-52) So since then I taught Russian language in 10th, 7th and 6th grades, later I also taught in the evening ( not “авиан”, which does not make sense - apparently “oroin” or evening classes which was popular) schools and spent hours there, being busy with my teachings perfectly suited me. When I was working there, I taught for the first time in 6th grade, no 7th, yes, it was 6th grade their class tutor, a teacher of Physics was ill so I was acting as the class tutor temporarily. So when I started my Russian language lesson, at that time countryside people thought I was a Russian, they did not think that I was a Mongol, the children talked among themselves “she is a Russian, shall we ask what is her name. Certainly, I heard it but I kept silence to see what they would do, then one child said we would give her the book for class evaluation, when she signs we’d know her name. There was such a book where the class tutor put evaluation marks, did the children behave orderly or not at the lesson and the teacher after giving the lesson put the evaluation mark and signed, there was such a practice. So I put the evaluation mark and signed fast in an illegible manner they were saying oh its is impossible to read.(laughed) They were confused for the beginning after they knew, that class had a number of twins, there were two twins so 4 of them then there was one twin girls.

Byambajav -

Six

Möngöntsetseg -

Six children, all of them twins, it was a class with many twins. So things went on.

Byambajav -

Was impossible to distinguish them?

Möngöntsetseg -

How can one distinguish them, Tuvshinjargal and Tumenjargal and all those twins, So nothing special, taught in Dornod then afterwards I was transferred to the city (Ulaanbaatar)...

Byambajav -

How many years did you teach there?

Möngöntsetseg -

Wait, I went there in October, November 1982 and came back in 83 or 84, it was 1984 and then I taught in evening courses of Russian languages (0-12-30) organised by the Mongolian-Soviet friendship society which was very popular among the people, it was an evening course for those who had to work during the day or those not working but interested in the course. After a while in 1985 I took up a job in Party high school. I worked there then the year 90 arrived, democratic revolution triumphed (laughs) everything was terribly changed, lost all the meaning.

Byambajav -

Please tell about your impressions of that period.

Möngöntsetseg -

Yes, that that time everything was kept in certain frame, everything had principles and procedures, once you entered the mainstream, you had nothing else to think about just followed the course. That time now this Ganbat was working there, Ganbold, this bald Ganbold was teaching in our economic chair, in general many of those who are now in streets were in Party higher school. That time Party higher school was under the control of Central Committee of the Party, there was the CCPRP (Central committee of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party), all the teachers (lecturers and professors) were invited to the committee and appointed by it, usually those who graduated with distinction, with red diploma of distinction were chosen, they were chosen on the basis of their (untarnished) high morality and education and appointed as lecturers. So only people with red diploma (of distinction) worked at the school. They were taken good care in the morning the school bus would pick up the teachers from one end to the other and in the evening brought them back and they dismounted near their home in groups. When thus we were travelling in the bus this Ganbold, Da. Ganbold talked a lot about democracy. He used to say that for us travel this way in a specially provided bus is not very agreeable we are just like others, we should not enjoy this kind of special privilege over others. In the bus youth crowded the back seats, while elderly professors sat in front seats, it was FAZ (medium size Russian made bus) so Ganbold used to say that. Ganbold rarely(0-15-11) sat in that bus, he mostly rode his bicycle to his work and back home, he would change his clothes into sports suits and rode the bicycle. Ganbat, who is now the Director of the Academy of Public Administration, he also used to ride bicycle.

Byambajav -

For the people of that socialist period making such critical remarks probably sounded rather strange, what else did he say?

Möngöntsetseg -

This was what he said and the most important thing is that at that time we were extremely busy political information in the morning, in evening there was some kind study groups so many activities were going on such as old Mongolian script study group (circle), we also attended English language course. So I used to make morning political information when gather early in the morning, I also spoke at various seminars, people were given different subjects to speak on, so you prepare your intervention on that subject and delivered it before the teachers I remember that once Ganbold criticized that the figures quoted were false, that those figures did not correspond real life situation, they were all abstract figures. But the people did not refute him, probably it was difficult for the to prove him to be wrong. Mat the issue was not researched…or may be was researched but it was not discussed that way. At that time they (those young people) were apparently meeting democrats (to discuss various issues) among the teachers of the University, Ganbold, I think, came from the University to our school. So he knew them (the democrats) and at that time they were already preparing their next moves. Well, then the party higher school was removed from the control of the Central committee and made high school of politics (political studies) and organizational issues rose, teachers were reshuffled, then came turn of streamlining and elimination of some of the posts, ours was a chair of foreign language, it was attached to some other chair, (0-18-01) since there is no more independent chair its staff were reduced in numbers, after this cutback I took a leave saying “yes”, ”yes” and quit. So after the summer vacation I did not come back, at that time my father was in Moscow to defend his Doctor’s dissertation and my mother went after him to Moscow. It was the time when peddler trading activities were emerging, so I decided to go into trading and I did not go to back to my work. So together with my husband I went to Moscow, from Moscow to Poland, I left my child at the care of my mother and father and proceeded to Poland. From Poland we bought jeans and came back. At that time we did not take direct international trains but always rode on local trains, because we thought thus we would make some savings but when we now think, it was not cheap at all, so we traveled making transfers from train to train. We arrived in Moscow and from Moscow we traveled further through Lithuania to Poland, we always traveled by local trains, thinking it was cheaper but it was not that cheap. And once when we were traveling it happened either the boarder of Lithuania or Latvia…

Byambajav -

Were there two countries Lithuania and Latvia?

Möngöntsetseg -

Yes. There are two countries Lithuania and Latvia. Vilnius, which was the closest, is the capital of which of the two? I think Vilnius is the capital of Latvia. These two countries gained their independence and insisted that since we were crossing its borders we should get the permission from them. And they did not allow us to travel further, we were travelling in local train, and they took us out of the train. I don’t know what it was, probably it was a station, after disembarking us they interrogated us one by one. It was some sort of guards, they had guns and shot birds and fired into the air apparently trying to frighten us. I was the only female in our group. (0-20-45) I was travelling with my husband, younger brother of my husband and a friend of the younger brother were with us. So they were interrogated for some time, they wanted to take a lot of money from us. We did not give them the money and the next day took a train to proceed further. So we brought jeans and shoes for sale, got a stall at the Exhibition hall over there. Then there were almost no specialized stall for the sale of shoes, not so many at least. We brought only shoes from Poland, specialized in its sale and were engaged in that sale for a year. It was not easy, firstly, you need quite a few people, one would be standing at the stall, the other would have to travel back and forth in order to bring fresh supplies, it is impossible to bring the supply sold it and go back again, we had very a few people, my husband has only one elder sister, except the lack of manpower we also lacked the inborn talent of salesmanship. I, for instance, have no talent of trading at all whenever some asked to reduce the price could not refuse, so at the end we got rid of the remains of the goods by giving away as present since we stopped the sale. After that in 91, since 91 we went to other places for trading, I went to Korea and worked there for an year. After returning from Korea, I could not find a suitable job for me (laughed) as they say I could not find a place to settle down and work. As for my husband he has a profession, an economist, finished the class of mathematics of the first 10 year school and he graduated from an institute in Leningrad. He was working at electric power station, at the fourth electric power station. And since he is a man he is more farsighted and looks a few steps ahead so he said he would do a bigger thing and the thing to do was also ready. I had really nothing much to do so looked after the child prepared the meal, made shopping and till came to work here I was living at my leisure. Since I had been in trading business I had bought a car, so drove here and there, haven’t done anything worthwhile, when now I think I was a person with no place in the society, however, there was nothing bad or wrong about it. Because when I was sitting at home just like that I had done that to my child, I had time to pay more attention to my kid. I would take him to the kindergarten, afterwards when he entered the school I had to help him to make his lessons, when the kid was in the first grade if you could spare some time and helped him then from the 2nd grade he himself can manage without your assistance. So when my child was attending the school, when he was in 2nd and 3rd grade I had almost nothing to do, there was no need for him to ask something from me, he understood the lessons and made his lessons without any help, so my only job was to prepare the food. My mother(0-24-40), on the whole, has always been a believer of Buddhist religion, during the socialist period when worshipping was prohibited, she took me with her to Gandan in the evenings, she had a Tibetan teacher, a Tibetan lama, she was a disciple of that lama so she frequently to visit him. And though she worked in a pharmacy when we had colds she would not give us any drug, she used sacred water, juniper and cured us. My mother is such an awfully devoted believer, so since 90 when worshipping became free, she has become almost inseparable from Gandan and spent most of her time there, it was over there that she saw an advertisement that the teacher would give a discourse at Lamiran. So she attended the very first lesson, then the teacher taught his lessons on Saturdays and Sundays so my mother went out saying that she has lessons. It was the usual manner of the mother we did not pay much attention. Then later mother would ask me the teacher wants to do this and my daughter please give him a lift in your car. I, usually, said yes, I’ll do. We, generally, obey whatever our mother or father instruct us to do, we do not think anything about it. I never said I am busy or gave any other excuses, if she asked the answer was yes. Well, let’s go there I would say “yes” and occasionally brought him to that place in my car. And after that I came back but whenever he needs a car mother would ask me my daughter please take them to such a location etc, so it went like that for quite a while. Then later I was told they got a plot of land somewhere, but the permission had not yet been issued (document certifying the ownership/possession of the land). I don’t know whether it was true or not but the man who gave the plot received a large sum of their money for getting the land for their use and promised to give them the permission as soon as the document was ready. An awfully long time has passed but the document was not coming. So I decided to help the poor teacher and went after that document to get that for the teacher so I started running from one official to the other asking about it and then one of them said the document was with him, that it would now be presented at a meeting for approval, so I did get that permission on land for the teacher and when occasionally the teacher asked me for a lift to go somewhere I would come to him so it was how we get acquainted. Then one day the teacher said: We would like to construct a building of this kind and I wanted to see a person in this connection, would you help me so I came to him. He showed me a painting (of a building) he had drawn and said if we can have a building this kind this is will be fine for us. We took that painting and decided to see someone else, an architect, so a woman came to us. Her name was Bujkhuu, we talked with her, teacher looks at some one and knows who she or he is. He knows what kind a person he or she is. So he said to me I think this woman is all right what do you think. I said she is fine for me and we decided to entrust the designing to Mrs. Bujkhuu. What I did was to help the teacher, the teacher did not know the language that well and the other person did not quite understand him so I thought and was explaining what the teacher said in Mongolian to the architect. So I helped the teacher to have the design of the house drawn and when the time of construction came the issue of finding a construction company rose and I told him that if you want to go somewhere and need a car please tell me, I’ll take you there (help you). I was not working so whenever teacher asked, oh no, no I had a job then I was working in “Ireidui” institute(Future), working as a teacher. But at the institute later I had very little to do, very few hours of lesson, hours for Russian language were very limited and I had a lot of free time, so I met with (representatives of) many companies. Teacher and me saw many companies such as Dornod and something, Company of prefabricated walls, we have been to Bayankhoshuu, another company something called Zam very far in Ulaan Khuaran (Military barracks) and many other companies. And we met a young man called Badamdorj who have a construction company and two us decided to entrust him the task. Then we have chosen Mr. Badamdorj’s the “Industr” (Industry) private company ltd. and the company was to construct the building and it had constructed the house, I was doing all this in order to help the teacher. At first I thought if I could get (the permission) and give him the land it would be an assistance but after that design of blue print of the building (was drawn), for construction all the technical details (solutions) were required such as heating and other connections (electricity, water, sewage etc)it was required to get the approval for all these technical connections so I decided to get them for him. It was difficult because to get an approval you had to give substantial bribe. Since my husband was working at electric power station I asked for his help and through his friends obtained the permissions to connect to electricity and heating networks, I tirelessly run after water supply and managed to arrange it. When you get those approvals and meet the necessary technical (conditions) requirements permission to construct the building was granted. So the building was constructed but when it was finished it was also difficult to leave just like that because I was in charge of all these matters from the very beginning, so when the time came to receive heating and connection to the main line I had to arrange it because teacher had no one to take care of it. So I thought OK I’ll arrange the smooth running of the heating system for this year and made contract for the year and thus I was taking care of all minor details. So it went like this, continued that way, my mother and father who are always concerned about their children always asked to do something for the teacher which further strengthened my attachment. My father used to say to …your mother you always attend lessons on every Saturday and Sunday, is there anything like finishing her studies or does she remain for years in the same class. He has no idea that there is no such thing as completing of Buddhist (religious) studies. My father will never say anything bad about Buddha nor any words of praise about it, he is a true communist, but he never utters a word of disapproval. If you read and study we can understand (Buddhist teachings) but from the beginning we learned to worship blindly. After working there and here when I sometimes ponder about why and how these teachers have become so compassionate, why they are born as human beings who can abandon themselves and devote his life for the good of others, I get extremely agitated and moved. My teacher walks without food and rest begs for assistance on behalf of others. Allowances and tuition fees of students are big issues. There are students who are keen to continue their studies but have no money to pay the tuition fee, my teacher, who is not a businessman, has no money, so he asks for money. Then you really feel pity for him and think if I was rich I would give him that money. If you were beside him and heard him to solicit that money you feel like crying and feeling of extreme sorrow fills you. Then those students who attend the lessons given by my teaches come from very far as the Ulaan Khuaran and they have no money to pay the bus fee so they are forced to leave the bus and take the other until the conductor again expels them from the bus. If we don’t do anything beneficial for these who’ll do that. Poverty will be eradicated by supporting them giving them the opportunity to study and get high education, it will not be eliminated only by giving them today food and clothing. However, only by obtaining a diploma one can not become a good person, by being close to the teacher a person will understand that education alone can not make you a good man, the most important thing is to grow up as a righteous person, a person who possesses qualities that distinguishes him from animal can enjoy a happy life. Puujee (Bujee?) teacher and my teacher concentrate their attention on infusing this view in these students from now and educate them in this way. A person with money may by different means graduate from an institute of high learning and get a diploma, but if he or she will not work sincerely what is the use of that person, if the person do not love his father and mother, he will not love his wife, he will not love his children and the people around him. Instead of being such a man, if the students could be brought up and educated to become a man without diploma but as man who can work anywhere with all sincerity, who respects people around him, he who dos not steal other’s property then he can carry on his livelihood in right direction. This purpose in mind the teacher’s lessons are organised in three different categories. At 11 a.m. for everyone interested, at 14 o’clock on Saturdays for students, at 14 p.m. on Sundays for high school children, the training is specially designed to suit this 3 age groups. Lessons on the following subjects are taught in different groups: how to live in peace and tranquillity in the group of all ages, skills of right ways of living for students, respecting one’s father and mother with filial devotion for children. What will be the consequence of not loving your parents, what bad things children should discard and what goods things they can get through what means are told to them. I myself haven’t studied the teachings of Buddha, I found out about purpose of these lessons and listened to my teacher’s discourses, there were many questions to ask, however, engaged in other activities I had no time to put those questions. After being acquainted with purposes of the lessons I also came to understand one thing exactly. The meaning of life, the essence of life of a human being, I was unaware and did not understand that until now. I came to understand it by being on the side of my teacher. Teacher never tells us you should do, this should be done this or that way, it should be like this and so on, he shows personally how it should be done. He never looked down at us he just told us do but never asked whether we can do that or not. However, when there is the earnest desire and will to do things you always succeed. One should not put a limit this can not be done, this is beyond my capacity, the most important thing is the sincere desire and determination to succeed. If one has such a will the one can do anything. Now, my co-workers do face difficulties, however, for us money is not the main thing, for example I am not rich person my child went to school (in a foreign country) we need a lot of money and we are deeply in debt and have problems, however, the main thing for us is not the money. The most important thing is the feeling of kindness and goodness at your heart, therefore, all of us here we don’t really care for money and don’t take money for our work. Otgoo’s life is hard, Tsevlee’s life is also hard but they work here without any other thought out of their kind heart and good intentions with no regard to the money so they are apparently guided (by supernatural power) from somewhere. I think that if you have such kind heart and good intentions sooner or later you will be able to follow the right path. I am just thinking this way, if I could attend the lessons of my teacher then I’ll probably look on matters differently. I’ll probably make my own conclusions, so I would like to attend the lessons for a few hours and I should find some time solely to devote to it. I don’t know why may be there is some kind of unavoidable obstacle, whenever I want to attend the lesson something usually comes up. I, generally, did not attend those lessons but there is a need to be there. listening to the talks of those who attended lessons of my teacher from as an outsider I came to the conclusion that a lama does not just convey findings of researchers of the Buddhism but talk about the principles that an ordinary man should follow in his life. The skill of correct living, I don’t know how to express, probably it would be wrong to call it the rules or code, may be the ways and means, if one follows them relentlessly then that person changes to the good direction. This is what I think lately, lately this is the thought I have. I can state definitely on my behalf that when you follow them it plays a very important role in upbringing of children and in family education. A person with right upbringing can work anywhere. The parents (father and mother), in the first place, (0-42-16) should give this right education (to their children). Educational background provided by the parents assists a person to choose his future path. If I did not take the words of my mother and father or did not obey them, I would never have met my teacher in this way.

Byambajav -

Yes, it is.

Möngöntsetseg -

If I was saying I have work to do or I am busy then I could never spared sometime. Mother never called me beforehand but when I had already agreed to see someone somewhere, she would call and say oh dear, my teacher has no car. So I had to say to the person whom I were to see I got something to attend without delay and drove off to see my mother. I abandoned everything I was doing and go to her because my mother said so. That is why I came to the conclusion, basing on my own life experience and that of my two younger siblings, that how did your father and mother rear you up, how they educate you at home basically have a very important significance. This I have seen proved again and I came to this very firm conclusion. Our mother and father did not say much. If the child is doing something wrong after a while my mother would give you a beating once and while, father never hit nor say anything or nag you. So a person does not learn to deceive or use various tricks. There are people who does the work in one way when somebody is overseeing him but when there is no control does it differently. I was not reared that way. It is an education, generally, that we received from our mother and father, it is their upbringing. So I met this teacher of mine, being aside the teacher I have learned a lot of things, it is impossible to remunerate them, being beside him is a step by step learning. My teacher is truly a very different person. I knew about it only by working beside him. Our teacher won’t scold us directly, he scolds his disciples, there is a child lama Tsagaan Maidar he scolds him. But after scolding he pities him awfully and even feels bad and sick. We may think what a big problem why can’t you scold a small child but he is so full of the conscience of forgiveness and can not do otherwise. When we are in bad temper… as for me previously I got angry easily and was very scornful but now I don’t get angry and restrain myself, we are all humans and human beings do commit mistake, probably this poor thing is lost and confused is the thought that now comes to my mind. I usually don’t get angry but once I am angry it takes time to quell that anger, my husband is very frank and says whatever is on his mind directly without thinking that his words might put the other person in an awkward situation, he speaks out without thinking then he gets angry very fast but also calms down very quickly. I don’t get angry for long time but once I get angry that what caused my anger lingers on in my mind which is very bad indeed.

Byambajav -

Are there many examples of those who attended and listened to the lessons (sermons)given by your teacher, who had a hard life but now the pattern of life of whom has been changed (0-46-36) and a result their livelihood had been improved? What would be the percentage?

Möngöntsetseg -

Now our Asral centre has started its activities on October 27, 2004. Today it is 2006, yeah. Improvement of livelihood of children mentioned before during this period is relative. The most important is the change they themselves has experienced, change in their mind (head) .

Byambajav -

When a change occurs in their mind and way thinking about life, a change of views on life comes next…

Möngöntsetseg -

Yes, there is a complete change. I noted down for myself the writings of these children. According to what the children and students told they were easily irritated and got angry before, now they stopped to get angry. Father of one child (a girl) was playing in betting games and because of this girl was furious and strongly disliked her father but now she understands her father and stopped to be angry at her father so the conflict between them has gradually subsided. Apparently as long as the child was angry at her father he became more obstinate and tenacious by continuing to bet, the girl was living with her mother separately from her father but now when she stopped be angry at her father, he reduced his betting. It is very interesting if people like you could make a survey findings of your experiment would be very interesting. This Tsevlee of ours was completely different before, our last recruit receptionist Naranchuluun came from rural community and it is said that he was a very angry man. We did not know about him we hired him when he was working as a guard at a construction. We found out about it from his child. Since he started working here he has changed completely, including the language he uses speaking to people, serving as a guard at construction he quarrelled with people all the time and was a very angry person but now he is a totally different person this what his daughter told us. Many awesome changes had taken place, take Otgoo, she was blaming her husband, because of him everything went wrong she thought, now when she started to think that I was wrong and things have changed for the better. She thought that if I understood and became aware of this earlier then my life would have been much better than now and stopped the quarrells and fighting with her husband which caused further deterioration of their life. Since she went to the studies of scriptures she stopped that quarrel. We built their nice house last summer.

Byambajav -

Did you?

Möngöntsetseg -

Yes. It is a nice house, teacher visited with us and at first gave assistance then afterwards also gave a loan my poor teacher. If knowledgeable people like you were at the side of the teacher you would become very nice (would learn a lot). As we are concerned our mental capacity is too meagre to comprehend him. Teacher at first gave grant aid (assistance) then also a loan. When the construction began they were short of 200,000 tugrugs, so he gave a loan of 200,000 tugrigs and asked when can you give it back. When he found out that they are short of money he said I heard building of your house is near to completion and asked how much money they needed, they said if we have 200,000 tugrugs it will be completed then that man (the teacher) gave 20,000 tugrugs. Then Othgoo said I’ll give it back to you on such date of September. So they built a beautiful, new house which was quite big, in one room her mother lived in the other with her husband and daughter 3 of them, so they started collecting money to repay back the loan. Once Otgoo told us that she was thinking to rent the old house to students and by saving that money they would pay back but her younger brother occupied the old house so it was difficult for her to charge her brother. And two of them collected the necessary sum, including the money her husband received as allowance for medical leave brought it to the teacher (to pay the loan) the teacher received it and the directly deposited the money into a savings account on the name of their child. If the teacher said: “I’ll give you 200000 tugrug, build your house” then they will not collect that sum. It is very easy for anyone to spend cash money, you can spend on trifles, it is not that easy to save money. So he opened a savings account for their child with 200000 tugrugs, they were not required to pay back the loan. There are many savings account of children, they will need the money to continue their studies, in the meanwhile the interests will be growing. We can’t do it for our children, even if think about it, if I continue to talk such instances there are many of them.

Byambajav -

Why don’t you talk about it.

Möngöntsetseg -

I can only talk about my teacher only.

Byambajav -

What was the situation of sister Otgoo then?

Möngöntsetseg -

Right, at that time you were not here, she came together with her husband to give the money, her husband had a stroke (0-53-21), his hand and leg were numbed, however, they saved money from his medical treatment, from the allowance he received for being disabled and came to hand the money over to the teacher what the teacher did almost made me cry on behalf of them. I know how difficult it was for Otgoo and the two of them, for them even 5000 meant a lot if they were able to deposit that into the savings (of the child) then when the time arrives and the girl finishes 11th grade, they would be reasonably well prepared financially and will have no problem.

Byambajav -

Please tell me what else has occurred.

Möngöntsetseg -

As for the other stories, there was a woman called Enkhtungalag who had two daughters, she was a single mother. She was living near the junction of 4 roads in a 00 room (stock room) of the Construction college, it was not a toilet but probably used as washing room or something of this sort when Rinbouchi teacher visited her. So he saw how difficult it was and decided to help her for three months. If he gave cash money at that time it would be not solve the problem so he bought her a portable wireless telephone set, he himself counted the daily earnings and gave her the money for daily food and the rest was deposited in a savings account. She has bought a fenced compound at Gandan paying several million tugrugs and had a house built on the plot, now she is living with her two daughters and has 5-6 million tugrugs in her savings account which she earned by that wireless phone. We opened last year for her daughter Baasansuren, who is now in 10th or 11th grade a savings account, most importantly the girl is a very good student, two of us bought for her on November 30th computer and printer, so she is now working on her computer, recently she participated in TV contest AHA (Questions and Answers), won the first place and was awarded by a crystal vase. Her mother called me on phone to tell it. She now has her own fences and house, and lives with her two daughters, so if her children are attending the school scrupulously their livelihood will improve. If not and if the children go into the street she will die. And the children will follow her foot steps, won’t they. Teacher had put forward the following condition: “we’ll help you and give assistance, but your children should not drop out from the school, if you would allow your children to leave the school we can’t help you. If your children continue to their studies in school we’ll help you to best of our abilities”. Thus he solved the main problem she was encountering, now she continues to carry that wireless phone and spend the accrued interest rates for their food, thus they are now in a far better position. The daughter is very good at her studies and I sometimes ask her to make English explanations to photos this way teach her to learn writing in English. It doesn’t matter whether she writes today with mistakes and incorrectly I say just write it I’ll send them as it is. This is also a trick so that she will try harder. Practice is a good teacher and it never looks down at children. Since he was in the 2nd grade I took my son with me, sometimes even called him my interpreter and the child was very proud and excited for that. So whenever English speaking foreigners arrived he talked with them without any embarrassment, it went on like this, he received 590 points in TOFEL examination and went to study in Dickrensky(in the text)? Dickens? University of USA. I can talk about it in relation with teacher. When I first met the teacher my son was in the second grade, we spent every summer aside the teacher and later when foreigners arrived with my teacher I used to take my son with me (to accompany them), and he acted as interpreter. Volunteers from abroad who have contacts with the teacher arrived and I am sure he must have felt the spirit of them being together with them. There is a stark difference between being told you should behave this or that way, and being alongside and working with those volunteers and get the feel of the spirit of them. I took him with me to Undur shil, Undurshil of Dundgovi, to Gachuurt and other places. Already grown up last year he was saying why so many nice people gather around the teacher. The clothes they wear are not that much different from those who live in underground canalization systems but they are extremely generous towards the poor. John who came this year bought gers for two men by his own money, he frequently visited them gave advise how to grow vegetables in their fences, taught them vegetable growing starting from tilling the land until he left for America in October after the harvest. He showed himself everything from tilling the land, planting the seeds, taking care of the planted seeds, what do to after they start to sprout, how to grow and harvest the vegetable. After harvesting how to eat the vegetables, to how store and preserve the vegetables. By doing this he educated the people how one should work, without such hard work you can not achieve the desired result if you plant the seeds and leave them without care and consume only that few which grow as a result of the law of the survival of fittest. A man learns by watching through his own eyes how vegetables grow if you take care of them in such way, John and he was working simultaneously in their fenced compounds and the man saw him to work on the plot John was really a very kind hearted man. Volunteers are guided by their sincere desire to help others and does not pay much attention to their appearances like we do, for them dressing up or wearing beautiful dresses are of no interest. When children come to the lectures on scriptures at 14 p.m., the first thing they learn is how to sit, new comers at first can not sit upright in cross-legged position, they almost lie down but the children of the previous year are quite different from the newcomers they sit in cross-legged lotus position, they don’t move or change their position so at least they learn to sit and listen to what the teacher is telling, then they learn how to love and respect their parents, their mother and father, so those children who frequently attend the lessons have the opportunity during the summer to learn English which is taught by volunteers free of charge, at a time when there are so many others who are so eager to learn English. The most important thing is to educate and give some knowledge to the children so that the children will be able to carry on further on their own. Then English is taught for two month free of charge. After that we close the training. A tour to a historical site in Mongolia, such as Khari-Khorin, museums, Zaisan tolgoi, is compulsory for the children and their teachers. This year we arranged them to attend the performance of Folk dance and song ensemble. We thought that it would be no good if the children would not know the beautiful dances and songs of our people, it would become an omission on their part. So we took them to the performance, this is how we work. On 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday grandmothers, grandpas and people of various age groups attend the lesson. These people will tell to those back at home what they have learned. Children attending our lessons often tell us my mother and father quarrel too much I‘ll bring them here to attend the lessons. And we are proud to hear that. We are bent to continue our activities further without disruption, if as many people as possible, or at least one person, were to come to us and leave with right intention, this is the most important thing for our centre. And we think that we are carrying further little by little the aspirations of our teacher, by sowing right intention the minds of the people.

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Interviews, transcriptions and translations provided by The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia, University of Cambridge. Please acknowledge the source of materials in any publications or presentations that use them.