Cultural Spotlight [Part II]

Foreign Exchange Student Joins LHS From Mongolia

Munkhsuld Narangerel (Suldee) takes a picture with Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX). The flex program allows students to attend international schooling.

Brock Hines and Joshua Smith

He wakes up, another country and another family around him, immersing himself in a culture distinct from any that he has ever experienced before. Whether it be the way that people speak and interact with each other or the host parents that he had never met until he got off of the plane, this new life that he will live for a school year is one entirely different.

Munkhsuld Narangerel, better known as Suldee, is attending LHS as a junior for the 2019-2020 school year. Suldee lives with a host family, which is a family that offers to introduce students to American culture and education.

“The host family will treat you as part of their family, so I am basically an American kid,” Suldee said. “They will teach us about what American people will do and where they want to hang out, and we will try and do activities that are only in America for experience.”

Narangerel is a transfer student from Mongolia who came here through the Future Leaders Exchange, (FLEX). He currently lives with another exchange student from Italy, Arpan Di Passio, who is currently attending as a senior.

“Arpan is with a different program,” Suldee said. “He lives with me as a double placement, so we are roommates and brothers.”

Mongolian culture doesn’t share many of the holidays, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. Instead, many Mongolians celebrate the New Year, Lunar New Year and Naadam, which is a time in July that includes family gatherings and participating in different types of games.

“[Naadam is] the equivalent of the Super Bowl where we take part in activities,” Suldee said. “Those activities [are] wrestling, archery and horse racing. It is basically to celebrate our history and our culture.”

Given that Suldee is here to experience American culture, he will pick up certain forms of mannerisms and beliefs that are not found in his home country. This sort of alienation from a brand new culture is something that many exchange students experience when they return, given that many of the newfound ways of communication are often viewed as odd.

“I think I am going to be a complete stranger to my culture when I come back to Mongolia,” Suldee said. “There are so many different beliefs and different standards for living. It’s definitely going to change how I communicate with people.”

The exchange program that Suldee came to America through is not exclusive to students from Mongolia. It offers insight into the American culture that students from around the world would not be able to experience otherwise.

“It is an international program that students can experience if they meet the requirements for such,” Suldee said. “For example, we have people from Serbia and Thailand that are taking part in an experience much similar to mine.”

Even while the culture in America is one that is distictly different from that of Mongolia, it is similar in more ways than one. This experience in America is something that Suldee can have for the rest of his life, along with whatever he chooses to bring back with him to Mongolia.

“[In Mongolia], if you live in the countryside, if you were traveling near [someone], they would invite you in and give you food and housing.” Suldee said. “The interesting thing that I learned about American households and neighborhoods are that they are very dependent, very nice to each other. It’s a very close knit community in general.”