Ulgii Olympiad

Across Mongolia English is taught in all secondary schools beginning in fourth grade.  For the most part, English is seen as just another academic subject that students must display proficiency in to earn their diplomas instead of an important communication tool that has real-world applications.  Because of this, in 2009 Akhtolkhun (Agii) Makhsum, owner and operator of Kobesh Travel, organized and hosted a competition at Ulgii’s School #4 called the English Usage Olympiad.  With the help of a local United States Peace Corps Volunteer and funding from the local branch of World Vision, the nine secondary schools in Olgii sent teams of 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students to compete in the areas of English grammar, speaking, and proverbs.  It was a huge success.

Agii decided to hold a bigger and better version of the competition again in 2010.  He expanded the competition to include the fields of mathematics and computer science.  The local Peace Corps Volunteers played another huge role in developing the material and implementing the logistics of the event.  It was another huge success.

In February 2011, School #4 hosted the competition for the third year in a row under Agii’s leadership.  It was once again expanded, this time to include Russian, and the English section was overhauled to feature a talent show, a spelling bee, and an emphasis on slang.  To Agii’s delight, students from his school took first place in the 9th and 10th grade sections and second place in 11th.

Over the past three years, the Ulgii Olympiad has become a fixture of the school year.  It has succeeded in showing students that studying English can be more than just a classroom exercise.  Students realize that learning can be both fun and rewarding.  Furthermore, it proves that a healthy sense of competition can really push students to succeed.

Plans are already underway to bring the competition back in 2012.  This time around Agii and his Peace Corps friends hope to include schools from nearby villages.