By Javkhlan Bold-Erdene
I have a dream…
Everyone has a dream. No one knows if it’s going to be realized or not, but the one motivates and inspires himself/herself with hopes and wills that every dream comes true sometime. I am a dreamer. Several years ago I started to learn about Australia since the very first time I saw its symbols such as kangaroos and koala bears on television. As I learned it’s the only country that is a continent itself, ranks first in the world with its sheep, and speaks English. I realized at once that Australia had become a big part of my dream.
“Seeing is believing,” is what we say in Mongolia. Visiting Australia and meeting those wonders was a far dream until I saw a little ad in the school at an upcoming English Olympiad to be held in Ulaanbaatar in November 2006. Its prize was quite a big one. The first three winners would be awarded the permission to select from the chosen countries to spend the summer holidays (at a with the host families and at a camp) in. Since there was Australia among the countries, I made my decision to take part in the contest. I practiced English and prepared for the big. I ranked as third with the total score from the first round and the speaking part. It’s for sure other contestants were of same grade, 11th.
No doubt, I selected Australia and began preparing all the necessary materials for applications, but only then I learned that all the expenses and bills had to be paid by the participant. It was a huge barrier for me because airfare, camp fee and other expenses were so high that I could not afford them. It seemed hopeless, but my uncle took a loan and found the expenses, saying I should go. Formerly, Australia was not listed in the selection of countries for previous winners of the contest organized by the International Lions Club. I was lucky, though.
I was surprised and inspired to go to such a big country, representing Mongolia. Since there is no Embassy of Australia in Mongolia, I had to go to Beijing to apply for Australian visa. That was the first time I left my home to far away and alone. Also, I took the train for the first time in my life. The organizer of the Lions Club accompanied me but it took 14 days to wait for visa permission in Beijing where I missed my home and family. Fortunately, I obtained Australian visa, so the waiting was worth it.
I learned a lot of things while I was in Beijing, getting acquainted with different culture, socializing with different groups, and learning to be independent and confident. Though the climate and food were different, I got used to the climate and the food without much effort. I boasted about my visit to McDonald’s to my friends and family members because we don’t have any McDonald’s in Mongolia. Arriving from Beijing, I stayed in Ulaanbaatar for three days and left for Australia.
Everything was so different and amazing since it was my first time on a plane. The Organizer of the Program along with his spouse picked me up from the Airport in Australia and gave me the opportunity to take some shots of Opera House on the way to my host family. All went like a dream until cold wind blew and reminded me of reality.
On the way to Newcastle, the city of Sydney seemed so beautiful through the car window that I could not find words to describe my feelings of wonder when we were in Sydney Harbor. I was asking the organizer and his spouse about everything. My host family was brilliant; they were funny and outgoing people and I had a good time with them. They took me to the sea, showed me so many things that I had not seen before and gave me the chance to taste nice food I had never tasted before. I was shouting with wonder when they showed me Australian Reptile Park, a home for diverse birds, wild dogs, reptiles, kangaroos, koala bears, different species of fish and many other animals that I didn’t even know they had existed. They taught me Australian phrases, helped me to study English and also, I was very happy I could see the launch of Harry Potter 5. But after a week together, I had to leave for the camp Kookaboora.
I felt a little nervous hearing there were 38 kids from 19 countries around the world, but it was not difficult to become friends with them. I exchanged my views with them in English and even held a presentation about Mongolia. A week at the camp passed so quickly at the blink of an eye, however I’ve learnt a lot there: knowing about 18 countries, their culture and traditions. We all had different backgrounds, different religious beliefs and customs, though we were connected through the one channel-English. Time at the camp was full of exciting “firsts”: for the first time I tasted food of 19 different nations, cruised the sea in a boat, drove the boat, walked 9 km in the forest and sat at the beach overlooking the sea as long as I wish.
A week at the camp was over, and I had to go to a new host family. It was not easy but I didn’t give up. I voluntarily worked at the school for deaf children and learned much. I used to learn how to communicate with them and what signs to use. It was an unforgettable period in my life.
I spent my last week in Sydney, where I saw a bunch of exciting things. For the first time I stayed in a hotel there, visited the Sydney Aquarium, walked down the streets to see the city life, entered the Opera House and enjoyed the sightseeing. One of the brilliant moments was the tour via ferry through Darling Harbor, the famous part of the city.
Looking back to the times in Australia, it is an essential part and unforgettable moments of my life that opened my eyes to the world. What I learnt from this visit is limitless. Most importantly, I realized that it is vital to look and go forward without giving up.