Who I Am and Why I’m Here

OK. You might be wondering, “What is this blog? And who is this guy?”

Hi, I am Natso. I live in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I have been trying to commit to writing for a while and only recently am I joining a Daily Post 30 day challenge called Blogging 101. That’s right. For the next 30 days, you’re going to see a new post every morning.

What would I write about?
Well, I think I ‘ll write for the sake of writing mostly, but I also became a Co-CEO of an NGO, so you can read about my experience of setting up a “legal entity” in Mongolia. Note how I am not saying a “startup”. That’s because I am not much of an entrepreneur, that thing is risky.
I also have been trying to write stories in English. Yeah, I only have few short stories and I already got few rejections. Let’s see, from Buzzy Mag, Orson Scott Card’ Intergalactic Medicine Show and Far East Enough. I think I’m missing a place. But I have some projects going on that might fare better.

I also like to read, so I’ll write about some interesting things I find out. For instance, I am in the middle of two books, Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms and Account of James Gilmore’s Mission in Mongolia.
While reading Farewell to Arms, I realized I would understand the book better if I had visited Italy. Because the book had a lot of Italian words about wines, breads and stuff. Also, this is my first book by Hemingway, and I’m not sure if I like his style. It sure is punchy though.

On the next book, Gilmore’s a Scottish Christian missionary who lived in Mongolia during the dawn of the 20th century. I found the book while scouting Gutenberg for anything related to Mongolia. It’s basically a tribute to the missionary, but the passing mentions of Mongolians gives me ideas about life in 1900s.

That’s about it, I guess. Writing, heading an NGO and reading. If you want to ask me questions, criticize or commend me, go ahead and leave a comment. I’ll take it all with thick skin. (Ah, who am I kidding, I’ll mope about it all day) If you want to follow me or whatever, I guess hit on the follow button. And I’m writing this from my phone in the morning with no editing so apologies on formatting and sloppy writing.

Have a nice day, I guess.

6 Things I Learned from Organizing a Filmmaking Workshop

From here on, I will be posting more about my social entrepreneurial antics. That’s right. This guy’s heading an NGO now. It’s called MetaStory and we have recently organized our first event–workshop on short filmmaking.

We had Lee Michael Cohn from LA Film School teaching Screenwriting and Directing, Miyegombo Alyeksandr doing a lecture on screenwriting, Khishigzaya B on acting, and Namuun Zet and Aurora Entertainment filmmakers teaching cinematography, and finally, Arena Multimedia’s Shijirbat teaching Editing.
This workshop is funded by the US Embassy and we had most of the workshop hosted at Kino Cafe.
To tell you the truth, it was a stressful thing for many reasons. One, since we received this grant we had had a fallout with most of our co-founders (I might write a out it some day), I decided to go under a rock, and had delayed this workshop for about a year, so I had my reputation on the line. Two, because the rest of my co-founders were not available, I ended up doing the most on my own (well, I had the help of my fiancée, younger brother, volunteers, and many friends and partners). But get this, I found several strands of gray hair during this workshop. I mean, talk a out dutiful service, huh?

Anyway, the workshop was organized and announced with tight deadlines, organized with shortage of manpower and proper planning–but it was received wonderfully well, all thanks to our passionate participants. Sigh. So what did I learn from this?

  1. You have to prepare for meetings

  2. After the fallout, I set up meetings with my new set of co-founders and called them to meet me. I could tell they were committed to our vision after the pitch, but I set up too many meetings afterwards, where I basically prepared nothing. It takes effort and time to organize meetings, especially for startups, where co-founders will have full time job. I prepared so little that our meetings went week after week where I was talking the same thing, promising to do something I am not capable (like doing an infograph on my own), and most importantly, not putting much follow-up on paper. Now, I have in the past practiced printing out meeting outline and jotting down action plans, so I will go with the Mongolian version from now on. Yeah, printing it out is important.

  3. It helps if your significant other is supporting you

  4. I can’t stress this enough. I was burned out and had given up on organizing this workshop until my fiancée convinced me otherwise. Not only that, she connected me with Mr. Miyegombo, who made all the difference in the future of the implementation, she ended up discovering Kino Cafe and she stuck with me with pep talk and company (and taking over many errands), despite the fact she’s on her third trimester (oh yeah, we’re expecting). She truly went above and beyond in helping me. l couldn’t have done it on my own.

  5. Some tasks are simpler than you expect.

  6. There were many things that I put off, because I thought it had to be done by multiple people or that I didn’t have enough expertise, such as communicating with teachers on the deliverables, developing an application form, conducting phone interview, even printing handouts and registration sheets and buying refreshments and stationeries. In hindsight I should’ve delegated some of these, but in this case, I was surprised at how easy some tasks were once you clocked in the hours and used some of my past experiences. But most importantly, if you’re under a big deadline. For example, once the application forms for the interview poured in, I envisioned setting up a team to judge whom to admit. But my co-founders were unavailable, and I hadn’t recruited any volunteers yet, so I did it on my own. We had announced our workshop on many Facebook groups, with few days left till the deadline. So we had about 35 application forms over the 72 hours or so. I stressed about calling them until nigh the deadline and did it anyway–and you know what? It wasn’t too bad.

  7. You can’t succeed without help from friends and volunteers

  8. It’s not like I did everything on my own. I couldn’t have done it withiut my friends, too. For instance, the poster was made by friend Sukhee who’s a talented designer (he also illustrated my mythical creatures post in Mongol Angle), my man Duk was all hands when I needed setting up Internet connection in the venue, and Aagii helped me when the Embassy cash was coming in a week after the workshop and I was in a tight spot. Who have I left?

    Volunteers: I also had the help of a passionate kid Ikhee, who came all the way from Darkhan to man the technical side of the Hangout with Mr. Cohn. My brother Sanchir helped me with small errands. Boyo and Sanchirka from Toastmaster’s (actually brought in by my co-founder who was unavailable) for helping set the refreshments during the first few days. Who else? (I’ll get back to this once I remember more)

  9. Don’t delay something you can do today to tomorrow

  10. I think I read this line somewhere while googling ‘how to organize workshop’ and it stuck in my head. The more things you do earlier, the easier it will be later on. If you delay them, you get a heap of things accumulated, massive panic attack and strands of gray hair. I think it helped that I worked more than my normal 8 hours, that I was fully committed to this, because my contract with ADB had ended. I don’t know why I thought I could do this while working full time, but if I prepared things earlier it might’ve gone without a cinch.

  11. Training the right people makes the whole thing worthwhile

  12. When I made the application form, I had the kids from MMF Facebook group in mind. You should check them out if you don’t know them. The people there really know their films, and while they can be a bit haughty to newbies, it showed me that movie knowledge is a veritable indicator of passionate filmmaker. Anyway, so I included questions like who won the Academy Awards in 1994 in the application form and also asked them to pitch their movie ideas. I also put English and time commitment as criteria. The result was a passionate and competent group of participants who learned proactively and made everything a rewarding experience. As Dale Carnegie puts it, “We are creatures of emotions, not logic” after all.

Монголчуудаа, Киргизстантай танилцаарай

2011 оны намар надад Нээлттэй нийгэм хүрээлэнгийн сургалтанд хамрагдаж Киргизстан улсыг зорих аз тохиосон юм.

Тэр сургалтыг 21-р зууны залуус: Мэтгэлцээн, Иргэний сэтгүүлзүй, Дижитал медиа гэдэг байсан ба надаас гадна 3 Монгол оюутан тэнд очиж, Афганистан, Узбекистан, Туркменистан, Казакстан болон Тажикистанаас ирсэн хүүхдүүдтэй хамт сурсан.

Анх удаагаа л төв Азийн оронд очих гэж байсан болохоор би тэр үед Киргизстаны талаар нэг их юм мэддэггүй байлаа. Гэхдээ Киргиз хүмүүсийн бидэнтэй соёл, түүхийн маш олон талаараа адилхан гэдгийг хараад үнэхээр биширч билээ.

Саяхан би Суралцах тойрогт (дэлгэрэнгүй мэдээллийг удахгүй) Киргизстаны тухай хэлэлцүүлэг өрнүүлсэн юм. Энэ хэлэлцүүлэгт бэлдэхдээ хийсэн судалгааны явцад би манайд Бороо гоулдыг ажиллуулдаг байсан (одоо Гацууртын гоулд дээр хүлээгдэж байгаа) Centerra Gold Киргизстанд бас алтны уурхайтай ба тэндээ л манай Рио Тинто шиг том нөлөөтэй юм байна лээ.

Киргизстанд уул уурхайн компаниуд 17-20% татвар төлдөг байхад Centerra нь Кумторын уурхайгаасаа 14%-ын татвар төлдөг бололтой. Рио Тинтогийн Оюу толгой манайд 25%-ын татвар төлдөг гэсэн. Энэ нийтлэл дээр Киргизийн засгийн газар Centerra-тай хийсэн гэрээгээ шинэчлэхийг хүссэн байна. Гэсэн ч Centerra Gold-ийнхөн “Бид танай үндэсний экспортын 50%-ыг нийлүүлж, дотоодын нийт бүтээгдэхүүний 20%-ыг бүрдүүлдэг” гэж хэлээд татвараа өсгүүлэх шинжгүй суугаад байгаа юм байна.

Та бүхэн бараг сонссон байх, Киргизэд сүүлийн 10 жил улс төрийн тогтворгүй байдал үүсээд байсан. Урд хэсгийн Ош гэдэг том хотод нь Киргизүүд Узбек угсааны иргэдийн дунд мөргөлдөөн байнга болдог юм байна. Хамгийн сүүлд 2010 онд болсон бослогоор хуучин ерөнхийлөгч Курманбек Бакиевыг авч хаяаад Роза Отунбаеваг гэдэг эмэгтэйг түр ерөнхийлөгч болгосон байна. Хэдийгээр одоо засгийн газар нь Алмазбек Атамбаевийн удирдлага дор тогтвортой байгаа ч энэхүү эргэлт, улс төрийн тогтворгүй байдал нь Centerra-тай гэрээ байгуулахад сул тал болсон бололтой.

Киргизстаны нийслэл Бишкект анх буугаад би яг манайх шиг айраг зардаг эсгий гэрт орж үзсэн юм. Тэднийг хараад үнэн сэтгэл хөдлөөд дараа нь сургалтын үеэрээ нэг Тажикстан найзтайгаа нийлж айраг зардаг нэг эмэгтэйнд очиж богино хэмжээний (4мин) баримтат видео хийсэн юм. Анх удаагаа хийж байсан болохоор угаасаа шал шог юм хийсэн л дээ. Гэхдээ тэр бичлэгийг хийх явцад Киргиз хэлний зарим үг нь Монголтой адилхан, цаашлаад бидний ахуй, хоол, ундны соёл их адилхан юм байна гэдгийг ажигласан.

Киргиз найзууд маань сургалтын үеэр гэнэт “Танай ерөнхийлөгч чинь Харвардыг төгссөн гэлүү?” гэж асууж байсныг санаж байна. Монголын талаар нилээд өндөр сэтгэгдэлтэй явдагийг нь сонсоод би их гайхаж билээ. Дараа нь Монголын хэвлэл мэдээллийн хэрэгслээр Киргизүүд манай туршлагаас суралцая гэж бидэнд хандсан талаар хэд хэдэн нийтлэл олж уншсан. Үр бүтээлтэй хэлэлцүүлэг өрнүүлээсэй билээ. Бид чинь ахан дүү улсууд шүү дээ.

Монголыг дэлхийд төлөөлөх 2 бүтээгдэхүүн

Монголын Эдийн засгийн форум 2013 саяхан зохиогдлоо. Хувийн хэвшлийн томчуудаас авахуулаад УИХ-ын гишүүд, сайдуудыг оролцуулсан энэ форумд худлаа байгаа даа гэж хардалт төрмөөр том том мэдээ сонсогджээ.

Гэвч уул уурхайн хэдэн компаниас хамааралтай болох хувь тавилантай манай орны хувьд энэ форум их зөв сэдэв рүү төвлөрсөн нь – Монголын “брэнд” экспортын бүтээгдэхүүнүүд юув, бид тэднийг яаж сайжруулж чадахав.

“Өдрийн мэдээ” сонины 3-р сарын 15-ны дугаарт бичсэнчлэн дараах 6 бүтээгдэхүүн Монголын ирээдүйг цааш нь зална гэнэ:

 1. Аялал жуулчлал. Бид нар уул уурхай байгаль орчныг бусниулснаас энэ салбар манайд унаад байгааг гадарлаж байгаа билээ. Нэг жуулчны компаний нөхөр Google дээр “Монгол руу аялах” гэсэн үгний хайлт сүүлийн 10 жилд 60%-иар буурсныг үзүүлжээ. Гэхдээ, [Соёл, спорт, аялал жуулчлалын яам] “National Geographic”-н “Traveler” сэтгүүлд Монголыг рекламдуулахаар 300 сая төгрөг өгсөн гэж мэдээлжээ. Энэ форумын оролцогчид нүүдлийн соёл иргэншил, үлэг гүрвэл, Чингис хаан (Монголын эзэнт гүрэн) гэдэг өнцгөөс л брэнд болгож хөгжүүлье гэж бодоод байх шиг байна. Үлэг гүрвэлийн хувьд манайхан дахиж олдвор олох экспедиц их хийхгүй бол бидний үзмэр Хятадын хажууд их бага харагдана. Хятадууд маш олон шинэ төрөл зүйлийн яс олж, [cit]  палентологийн ухааныг хэдэн алхам урагшлуулаад байгаа билээ. Жишээ нь бид “Юрийн галавийн цэцэрлэгт хүрээлэн” УСК-д гардаг динозавруудын ихэнх нь том шувуу шиг өдтэй амьтад[cit]  байсан болж таарсныг мэдэх билээ. Манай Тарбозавр Батаар ч бас өдтэй байсан болж таарах байх. Гэтэл манай яамны Монголын аялал жуулчлалын брэнд болгосон шинэ лого нь өдгүй тиранозаврыг унасан охины зурагтай болж таарсан. Засах л хэрэгтэй болох байх даа.

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2. Мах(ан бүтээгдэхүүн). Манайх 2.8 сая хүн амтай, 42 сая малтай мөртлөө яагаад махны экспортоор дэлхийд алдартай болчихоогүй байна вэ гэсэн чинь гадаад хэрэглэгчид талд бэлчсэн малыг фермд тэжээсэн малнаас аюултай гэж үздэг юм байна. Хонины махыг үмхий мах гээд олон улсад нэг их экспортлодоггүй гэж би бас хүнээс сонссон юм байна. Гэхдээ сайн мэдээ гэвэл Дэлхийн мал эмнэлгийн байгууллагаас ирэх таван сард монгол малын махыг эрүүл ахуйн хувьд хүлээн зөвшөөрөгдөх байх гэсэн гэнэ. Мөн дан ганц мах ч биш малын шийр ашиглан коллаген ч хийж болно гэнэ. Жил бүр 8 сая мал нядалахад 42 сая шийр хаягддаг гэнэ. (2 хөлтэй мутант юмуу 3 хөлтэй ахмад малыг оруулахгүйгээр тооцвол) Мөн нядалгааны үеэр гардаг цусыг ч бас цусан хиам болгох боломжтой гэж байгаа юм байна. Цаашаа зөндөө л шинэ санаа гарах байх, гэхдээ нэг л зүйл тодорхой байна: Бид махаа экспортлож зарах цаг иржээ.

2 Products That Will Represent Mongolia to the World

Mongolian Economic Forum 2013 was organized recently. With participants ranging from private industry leaders to ministers and parliament members, this was a forum full of too good to be true statements.

But for a country committed to become dependent of few mining companies, this forum had a good focus – what are the Mongolia’s “brand” export products and how can we improve it.

Below are the 2 products I hear will steward the future of Mongolia, according to the “Daily News” paper’s March 15 issue:

1. Tourism. We all know that tourism has been failing on our end because of mining companies messing up the nature and so on. One tourism businessman showed this on a 60% decrease of keyword ‘travel to Mongolia’ on Google Search over the last 10 years. However, [the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism] is spending 300 million MNT ($214,000) for advertisement in National Geographic’s ‘Traveler’ magazine. The participants of the forum in this sector apparently suggested nomadic lifestyle, dinosaurs and Chinggis Khaan as the brands of tourism in Mongolia. As far as the dinosaurs go, I hope more dinosaur fossil expeditions are made because it will be nothing next to China, which has been making many important discoveries and taking the world paleontology forward several steps. For example, we now know that most dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park looked more like big birds.  Even our Bataar was covered with feathers. But the new Mongolia’s tourism brand logo was a girl riding a tyrannosaur without any feather. Maybe a change is due soon.

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2. Meat (products). How could a population of 2.8 million people with 42 million livestock not be exporting meat and getting famously rich for it already? It turns out that consumers are scared of foreign pasture-fed animals over fodder-fed animals, mostly beef. Mutton I was told is called a stinky meat and not imported or exported around the world a lot. But the good news said in the forum was that the World Veterinary Organization in the upcoming May might approve Mongolian livestock meat for international export. Not only meat but we can also make collagen processing animal feet. Approximately 8 million livestock is slaughtered each year and 42 million feet gets disposed (considering there aren’t any two-legged mutants or three-legged veteran animals). Also the blood can become a bratwurst apparently. Many wild ideas can come out, but one thing is certain, it’s time we export some meat outside.

 

Hey Mongolia, Meet Kyrgyzstan

Credit: telegraph.co.uk

In the summer of 2011, I had an opportunity to visit Kyrgyzstan as part of the Open Society Institute workshop.

The workshop was called Youth in 21st century: Debating, Citizen Journalism and Digital Media, and 3 other Mongolian students went there with other kids from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

Naturally I didn’t know a lot about Kyrgyzstan as this was my first real exposure to the rest of Central Asia but I was amazed by how much we have in common with the Kyrgyz people in history and culture.

Recently I started a discussion with the Learning Circle (more information to follow) about Kyrgyzstan. During a research prepared for that I learned that Centerra Gold, a Canadian giant that operated Boroo gold mine in Mongolia (and pending Gatsuurt gold mine), also operates in Kyrgyzstan and has a large presence there much like Rio Tinto here.

It turns out that Centerra’s Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan has been paying 14% tax for the government while the other mining companies pay 17-20%. Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi pays 25%. In this article, Kyrgyz government wanted to renegotiate their deal but Centerra Gold said ‘We bring up half of your exports, and eighth of your national income’ and didn’t want to increase their tax rate.

As most of you might have heard, there has been some political instability in Kyrgyzstan in the last decade. There has been many clashes between the Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeki citizens in the Southern city Osh for a long time. The latest riot was in 2010 that took over the former president Kurmanbek Bakiev and place interim president Roza Otunbaeva. Although the government is stable now under Almazbek Atambaev, I guess from the business environment perspective, this instability gave the country a disadvantage to negotiate with Centerra.

During my visit in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, I visited a yurt that sells kymys just like us. I was so taken by them that I actually made a short (4min) documentary video about a lady that sells kymys with my Tajiki friend later as part of the workshop. It was my first shot at making it, so it sucks but while I was making it I learned that some Kyrgyz words have the same root with Mongolian, and furthermore that we have similar way of living, drinking, eating and speaking.

I remember my Kyrgyz friends asking me, ‘Your president is a Harvard graduate, right?’, one day during the workshop. They seemed to be pretty impressed with Mongolia to my surprise. Later, I noticed that there has been several articles in Mongolian media about Kyrgyz officials approaching us to learn from our practices. I hope we initiate a good dialogue and help each other out. We are after all, brothers.