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On April 20th the grade 3-4 class from NSCL in Beijing left on a 22-hour train ride to Sainshand, Mongolia, to spend 5 days visiting their sister school there, and learning about Mongolia history and culture. The group consisted of 13 children from Korea, the US, Singapore, and Japan, and 12 adults, including teachers, parents, and a doctor.

The destination was Sainshand, the capital of East Gobi Province. The trip was led by Dr. Donaldson Woods, who runs an NGO that has worked for several years to improve the lives of people near the survival line.

Besides the educational motive, the another purpose was to bring clothing, medical supplies, and seeds to the poorer areas, as well as teaching them how to use the seeds. In addition, Dr. Na Renhua of Beijing United Hospital accompanied us to see patients and instruct medical workers.

For anyone interested in more information on Mongolia, a good source for background stuff as well as interesting news and anecdotes is Mongolia Today.

Even if some of us do return to Mongolia in the future, I think it is safe to call this trip a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of us. I would like to thank Dr. Woods for providing us with the opportunity not just to see Mongolia, but to see it in context; Mrs. Woods for her courageous decision to take 13 children for a week (I don't know if it took more courage to take the kids without their parents, or with them); Tumei,the translator, whose knowledge of both languages and cultures, along with incredible patience, made everything go so smoothly; the hotel where we stayed - I give them 5 stars; and all the people of Sainshand, who made our stay really eye-opening.

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