Table Speech

Treasures I Received from Japan

October 05, 2011

Mr. Janchiv Galbadrakh
General Director, SHINE MONGOL High School
Former Rotary Yoneyama Scholar
Khuree Rotary Club, Mongolia

 I am now 48 years old, blessed with 5 children and 2 grandchildren. I studied at Yamagata University and Tohoku University and became a principal of SHINE MONGOL High School in 2000.

 I used to teach physics at a junior high school in Ulan Bator. Democratization after 1992 brought various information from countries around the world and I was impressed by how advanced Japan was and felt admiration for its technical development. I realized the excellent educational system and human resource development scheme brought success to Japan and decided to study in this country.

 I studied as a foreign student sponsored by the Japanese government during the first 18 months. Then I pursued my postgraduate degrees (M.A. and Ph.D.) at my own expense and brought my family from Mongolia. I recall how hard my life was then, as I had to survive by doing several part-time jobs sacrificing my sleeping hours.

 Fortunately I was selected as the Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation scholar during the second year of my M.A. studies. My Sewa Club was Yamagata North RC and my Counselor was Mr. Sakamaki who I regard as my father in Japan. I first could not believe to be selected as the Yoneyama scholar. I was overwhelmed by emotion and could not finish my speech at the scholarship awarding ceremony, as I broke into tears.

 When I made a three-minute-speech at a certain RC regular meeting 6 months later, I spoke about “my dream” to build a senior high school of international standard in Mongolia, to which the Rotarians kindly expressed encouragement and generous support.

 In April 1999, I started my Ph.D. course at Tohoku University and did the research on the feasibility of my dream project. Mr. Sakamaki and other Rotarians came forward to support fund-raising, as the construction cost was estimated to be rather expensive due to the long and severe winter in Mongolia.

 In autumn 1999, the “one pillar circle” was established and they asked each member for a donation of 10,000 yen a year. Past Governor Mr. Fumio Takahashi of RI District 2800 kindly accepted to be the circle leader. We called upon Rotarians as well as citizens for donations and in-kind assistance that included old school supplies and equipments. Thanks to the generous support from so many people, we completed construction of a part of the school building by October 2000.

 SHINE MONGOL High School was the first 3-year-curriculum senior high school in Mongolia, based on the Japanese senior high school system. The ordinary 10-year-educational scheme in Mongolia comprises 4-year-elementary, 4-year-lower-secondary, and 2-year-upper-secondary schools. This has deprived students of their eligibility to study abroad. I am convinced the establishment of this senior high school made a major contribution to education in Mongolia. Students now have wider options to study abroad.

 We welcomed 105 new students for the first year, with 8 teachers. It is the 11th year now with 924 students, 80 teachers and 1,300 alumni. Our school introduces the world-standard curriculum to help our students acquire high academic ability to become active on the international stage. 60% of our alumni have studied at universities abroad; majority of them in Japan but also in Russia, China, the US and Turkey.

 Today there are 175 alumni studying here in Japan at 39 universities and technical colleges, including the University of Tokyo, Osaka University and Tohoku University. 72 are government-sponsored students, while the remaining 103 are privately-funded students who are all granted scholarships from our 4 sponsoring organizations: NGO “ACA” (since 2000), Higashi Nihon House Co., Ltd. (since 2001), Mabuchi International Scholarship Foundation (since 2006) and Yasuda Scholarship Foundation (since 2006). Each student receives about 1.2 million – 1.5 million yen per year from the 4 sponsors to cover his/her tuition and living expenses. Contributions from the sponsors during the past 5 years have exceeded 200 million yen. This scholarship aims to cultivate new international leaders who will work towards future development in Mongolia and become a bridge between Japan and Mongolia.

 Now, let me quote some remarkable achievements made by our alumni. An alumnus from our inaugural class is currently studying bio-medicine for Ph.D. at the University of Tokyo, after completing his Master’s Degree at Chiba University. Another alumnus graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of our alumnae is currently studying at Nagoya University with a dream to become the UN Secretary General. Some alumni are aiming to get the Nobel Prize, while others hope to establish their own companies that will represent Mongolia. So many students are studying hard motivated by their dreams.

 Before closing, let me speak about the “treasures I received from Japan.” First, Japan made me what I am today. And second, so many dedicated Japanese people gave us the SHINE MONGOL High School. We are blessed with talented alumni, who I am convinced will become the bridge between our two countries. Personally, my first son was born soon after we returned to Mongolia on the Birthday of Japanese Emperor, December 23.

 Today, there are 7 Rotary Clubs in Mongolia, and I joined the Khuree RC in Ulan Bator this February. I was given a chance to attend the District Conference in Hokkaido, as well as a chance to make a table speech here at Tokyo RC today. I regard this precious occasion to be my start as a Rotarian.