Elizabeth Barnes, a junior at Rocky Mountain High School saw an article in the Chronicle several months ago about a trip to Mongolia offered by the 4-H Club. The idea of such an exotic trip piqued her interest even though she had never flown on an airplane or ventured far from home in the past.
As part of the application process, Barnes went through a rigorous questioning process. The questions focused on her knowledge of issues related to rural water and food supplies. She was quizzed on issues her community faces and won the judges over with both her answers and her enthusiasm.
The 4-H will pay for most of her trip, but Barnes will have to pay for her luggage fees and passport and will provide her own spending money for the trip.
The purpose of the trip is educational. Around 28 members of the 4-H club will make the trip with Barnes, including three others from Wyoming and others from Colorado, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, California, Washington and Georgia. The program will provide the young travelers with an opportunity to learn about the culture and rural agricultural methods used in Mongolia. Six chaperones will accompany the group.
“We will learn about the land,” said Barnes. “The Mongolians are also mining for coal and bentonite and are even trying to mine for gold a little bit. So we’re going to learn about that and how their food and water supply works.”
Barnes left Wednesday on a more than 14-hour flight to China, where she was to have a four-hour layover before her final leg of the trip, which takes her into the capital of Mongolia. Barnes will spend the first few days in Mongolia in the capital city Ulaanbaatar where she will tour museums and historical sites with the group.
She will then travel by van for about four hours to a small town similar in size to Cowley called Hentii, where she will spend a considerable amount of time learning about the Mongolian culture. Barnes will be staying with a host family during her stay in Hentii and will have a host sister who is 16 years old.
“My host sister is 16 just like me and she has studied English for five years, so she is pretty good to talk to,” said Barnes.
Barnes will have the opportunity to experience everyday life in Mongolia right alongside of her host sister.
“I’ve been talking to my sister quite a bit already,” said Barnes. “They do have a farm where they milk their horses because they drink fermented mare’s milk and they have to milk the horses quite a bit for that. They also eat horse and goat meat, so that will be something really different.”
Barnes is open to trying new things and plans to try the exotic foods offered by her host family. She looks forward to the adventure of experiencing such an exotic culture.
“I’m looking forward to meeting new people, trying new foods and learning about a different culture,” said Barnes. “I’ve never flown before, so I’m nervous but also excited. I’ve been to Wyoming, Utah, Montana and Colorado. That’s about it.”
Barnes will land in Mongolia on Friday and will explore the country for about three weeks. When she returns home, she plans to share her experience in a slide show at the log gym in Cowley.
By Patti Carpenter