East Asian Studies, part of Interdisciplinary Programs at Western Washington University, is hosting visiting instructor Erdene-Ochir Tumen-Ochir of the National University of Mongolia this spring.
Tumen-Ochir was selected as the Henry G. Schwarz Distinguished Instructor of Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies to teach Mongolian language and culture during the spring quarter of 2016.
Vicki Hamblin, executive director of Western’s Institute for Global Engagement, helps Western collaborate with students and faculty coming from Western’s international partners, including the National University of Mongolia.
This collaboration is paid through donor funds made to the Western Foundation to provide all the necessary means to host professors’ living expenses and to cover classroom resources.
Schwarz was a previous East Asian Studies professor at Western and donated the funds that allows these lectureships to happen. This program supports visiting professors like Tumen-Ochir to teach at Western for three months, allowing him to implement certain teaching methods that he found useful at the National University of Mongolia.
“Donations were made by Professor Schwarz and Professor John C. Street to support faculty exchanges, the Wilson Library’s Mongolia Collection, student scholarships and travel fund, including the Global Learning Program to Mongolia,” said Hamblin.
It was last fall when Western connected with the National University of Mongolia and chose Tumen-Ochir to teach an elective course.
“The day I got accepted to teach at Western was a memorable moment for me,” Tumen-Ochir said. “I was teaching a class that day and my phone started ringing in the middle of it. It was the international office letting me know I got the job and I ran back into my classroom telling my students that I was going to America to teach.”
Tumen-Ochir had seven years of experience teaching to international students prior to teaching at Western and had always wanted to teach abroad. From being a private teacher to a university professor, Tumen-Ochir was already familiar with communicating with students from other nationalities.
Within the first few weeks of teaching at Western, Tumen-Ochir said he was pleasantly surprised by the learning environment.
“The students are very active and motivated to learn,” Tumen-Ochir said. “The classroom setting is very student-centered and I really want to bring that back to Mongolia. This has already been a valuable and useful experience and I’m excited to tell my stories to the faculty at the university.”
Tumen-Ochir plans on continuing his work with Western’s Global Learning Program to Mongolia when he returns to the National University of Mongolia.
“A lot of Mongolian scholars know about Western Washington University and the Mongolian program here, but many do not know about the Wilson Library’s Mongolian Book Collection and the resources it has.”