Emma Urbaska 2014-4-21My stay in Inner Mongolia undoubtedly changed my life. I never thought that just nine days in a new culture could have such an impact on me, but it has. The Mongolian people are people you would be lucky to have the opportunity to meet in a lifetime, especially the folk I was surrounded by during my visit. The Mongolian culture is a unique one, filled with passion, confidence, understanding, and love. A Mongolian is passionate in everything that he or she does which brings out his or her natural confidence when you meet them. As you develop a friendship with a Mongolian they start to learn about you and understand who you are, and this brings them to develop a love for you. This kind of encounter is incredible to experience because it all happens so fast. I am close with a few Mongolians in particular and we only had less than a week to really develop a connection. It’s remarkable to me that these people will never question you or doubt you, they simply trust and appreciate you for who you are and the good qualities you possess. The Mongolian people and culture definitely brought out some of my good qualities. My love for music flourished since we arrived in Hohhot. Being at the arts college and being around so many talented musicians, singers, and dancers has made me realize the passion I have for music. At the schools we visited pre-Hohhot, the students were all well-educated but none had much of a personality. In Inner Mongolia, everyone has a personality and a uniqueness about them, especially the students at the art school. Seeing that was reassuring to me because most of my passions don’t involve reading, writing, and math in any direct way. Another thing that really stuck with me about the Mongolian culture was the music. There is so much passion and soul in the songs they play, it’s as if they are talking to you through the instruments, sometimes about lively things and other times about sad and deep things. Hearing this music made me curious about American music and exploring the different genres of music in our culture. It also made me wonder about the different types of music there are around the world. I would love to travel to a few new countries and hear how the people express themselves there. Wondering these things makes me want to be able to express myself through music as well, just as the Mongolians do. Traveling to Hohhot was my favorite part of the past month for many reasons, even more than what I wrote about above. Some things simply can’t be written down, just taken in and kept in your memory and heart. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that my stay in Inner Mongolia will be the most vivid out of all of our experiences when I look back on this program in a few years. Seeing a culture that thrives on music, friendship and passion made me enjoy my experience that much more. Although I was only there for a short period of time, leaving Inner Mongolia feels like leaving a group of really close friends, and I don’t just speak for myself when I say that.