Montana State University

Discover Mongolia at MSU International Education Week, Nov. 17-21

November 17, 2008


Bozeman-based photographer and author Gordon Wiltsie will narrate a slideshow of images that he has taken in Mongolia at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17 in MSU's SUB Ballroom A. Wiltsie's talk is a part of MSU's International Education Week, set Nov. 17-21. This year the week focuses on Mongolia, which Wiltsie says is one of the most interesting and photogenic places on earth. He compares parts of it to the Gallatin Valley, 100 years ago. Photo by Gordon Wiltsie, used with permission   High-Res Available

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Mongolia, a visually stunning country that shares much with Montana but also contrasts with it in important ways, will be the focus of Montana State University's International Education Week 2008, set Nov. 17-21.

This is the sixth year that MSU's Office of International Programs has sponsored an international education week. The event emphasizes the culture and traditions of a country while offering to the community free admission to lectures, film, stories and demonstrations. Mongolia is a natural topic for international education week because it is linked to Montana in several ways, according to Norman Peterson, MSU's Vice Provost for International Education.

"Mongolia shares similar landscapes and environmental challenges with Montana," Peterson said. "It is also a land of haunting beauty and singular customs that will be the topic of a great line-up of interesting, free events throughout the week. I hope everyone on campus and in the Bozeman community is able to attend."

Bolortsetseg Minjin, a paleontologist from Mongolia who is currently a visiting scholar at the Museum of the Rockies, will kick off the Discover Mongolia week with a presentation about dinosaurs in Mongolia. Her talk is set for noon, Monday, Nov. 17, in SUB room 275.

In 2007 Bolortsetseg founded the non-profit "Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs" (ISMD) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The goal of the organization is to build a museum in Mongolia to preserve dinosaurs and other national treasures, and to further science education in the country. Since 2005 she has worked with MSU's Jack Horner, who has supported her efforts to improve Mongolian paleontology. She is working on the paleobiology of the Cretaceous dinosaur Psittacosaurus while at the Museum of the Rockies on a post-doctoral research position.

Bozeman freelance photographer Gordon Wiltsie, whose work is frequently published in National Geographic and other national magazines, will narrate a slideshow, "Images of Mongolia" at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, in SUB Ballroom A.

Wiltsie, author and photographer of the book, "To the Ends of the Earth - The Adventures of an Expedition Photographer," said he became entranced with Mongolia, which he first visited on a National Geographic assignment in 2002. He has since returned two times, become conversant in the language and serves on the board of directors of BioRegions International, the Bozeman-based non-profit organization started in 1998 by MSU professor Cliff Montagne. BioRegions assists the people of Mongolia's Darhad Valley with a variety of community-based, self-help projects. Wiltsie said he considers Mongolia to be one of the most interesting and photogenic places on earth and compares parts of it to the Gallatin Valley, 100 years ago.

Several students in MSU's Honors program worked in the Darhad Valley with BioRegions International as a part of an MSU summer exchange program. The students will speak about their summer study experiences at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 19, in room 275 of the SUB. The students worked with the people of the area on projects that will help them sustain their culture.

The Oscar-nominated film "Mongol," the story of Genghis Khan, will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19 at the SUB's Procrastinator Theater. Directed by Sergei Bodrov, the sweeping film tells the story of Khan, who was a slave before conquering half the world in the early 1200s.

Traditional Mongolian music, song and dance will be performed by Mongolian students at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in SUB Ballroom A. There are currently five students from Mongolia studying at MSU as well as three scholars and professors.

Mongolian students will read to area children at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at the Bozeman Public Library. The students will read from the book "The Khan's Daughter," as well as give a demonstration of Mongolian writing.

Montagne will speak about BioRegions and Mongolia at noon on Friday, Nov. 21, in room 275 in the SUB. For a decade Montagne, a professor of land resources and environmental sciences, has coordinated a team of people from Bozeman who have worked with the people of the Darhad Valley on a variety of issues including land erosion, health and sustainable economics. Montagne and BioRegions' work in Mongolia will be highlighted in the upcoming issue of MSU's Mountains and Minds magazine, coming out in November.

Mongolian cultural artifacts will be on display throughout the week at the MSU Library. In addition, an exhibition of the top 15 photographs taken by MSU students while on MSU's Study Abroad programs will be on display throughout International Education Week in the SUB's Exit Gallery. Paintings done by Mongolian children, ages 5-16, will be displayed at the Bozeman Public Library.

All activities during the Discover Mongolia International Education Week are free and open to the public. Discover Mongolia bookmarks will also be given out during all events during the week.

For more information about the week, contact the MSU Office of International Programs, 994-5046 or go to http://www.montana.edu/international/Events/IEW/2008/Schedule08.htm

Yvonne Rudman (406) 994-4031, rudman@montana.edu