Reports from the Field

Report from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

nolan beilstein in Mongolia


Week 1 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

I arrived in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on June 9 early in the morning. Exhausted from jet lag, I managed to get a few hours of sleep before starting my first day abroad. I live in an apartment owned by an employee at New Choice, the organization in which my internship goes through. The accommodation is nice with everything I could need to be functional during my five weeks here. My first day involved a currency exchange and retrieving a sim card so I could communicate with other people in the city. I also met some of the other volunteers.

In my first weekend, I was able to do a lot of sightseeing before I was scheduled to start. I went to quite a few museums as well as other landmarks the city has to offer. It did not take long for me to get my bearings.

I was scheduled to begin working at NTV, a local TV station in Ulaanbaatar, but found out quickly this would not be the case. With elections currently underway in the city, NTV would not be allowing interns to work with them. As a result, New Choice paired me with other volunteers, Lara and Caitlin, to make videos about climate change, ecology and sanitation that would end up airing on TV. The whole project seems to be very, intern-oriented with little assistance coming from New Choice past the lending of a camera.

With this in mind, Lara, Caitlin and I decided to amend the outline provided to us as we saw our version as the superior one. The idea pitched to us involved 10 videos, each five minutes long about the previously listed three topics. Unaware of how to provide 50 minutes worth of the same three topics, we decided to put the majority of our effort into the climate change video, striving for 10 minutes. We have currently finished a rough draft, shooting schedule and have already begun shooting. A few problems have come up with the transfer of clips to the editing software. The camera we were given uses actual tape. Which is fine, but needs to be digitized in order to edit. And as of now, the workers at New Choice cannot locate the device required to digitize the clips we have shot; delaying our actions.

Luckily, Lara and Caitlin told me about a project they’re working on outside of New Choice, something they started when they were without work for about a month. It is a documentary of sorts about a local, professional football club called Bayangol FC. They are a newly developed team that just recently qualified for the Mongolian premier league. And as they currently struggle with acquiring foreign players and providing accommodation for them, we thought we would expand our work with the one given to us by New Choice moving sluggishly.

I see a lot of promise in the video with Bayangol and I am excited to see how it turns out while also awaiting an advancement in the climate change video

Weeks 2-3 on the project

I am more than half way through my placement in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Nothing much has developed since my last post. My group and I are still making the climate change and football video. The filming has been completed and we are now in the editing stage. With the climate change video, since we had to use a camera which records on tape, the only editing software we are able to use and accepts the format is Movie Maker, a remedial editing software.

I did have the best time of my placement this past week when I went to a camp near Batsumber, Tov to document a scout training camp. I interacted with many of the campers and befriended a few. I was there from June 25 and returned on June 29. I got a good taste of the Mongolian country side.

Then when I returned to the city, I was reminded of were I left off. Mainly, the nonchalant attitudes of the New Choice workers regarding our needs to complete our videos they asked us to make while we wait to be placed at a TV station, the real reason I came to Ulaanbaatar. I was completely content to make videos for New Choice while I waited to be at the TV station. I am not, however, content with what has gone on since. We’ve received little to no help from them in regards to completing our videos. My group and I usually need to remind them about things three times before anything happens. We’ve sent our entire script multiple times including voice overs to shooting locations and it seems as if they have not read it.

While I try to remain positive and just take in the experience of living in a foreign country, my roommate and group member makes this very difficult. He constantly complains and has a bad attitude in regards to our work. He’s stubborn, brings negative energy to the workplace and is overall very hard to tolerate in and out of the workplace.

I’m here for two more weeks and I am supposedly supposed to start at the TV station next week, but I’ll believe it when it actually happens.

TV & Print Journalism Internship in Mongolia



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Nolan Beilstein