Damdin Tsogtbaatar – http://www.australiaawards.gov.au/content/awardees.html#damdin
Damdin Tsogtbaatar was working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mongolia when he was awarded an Australian Development Scholarship. After returning home he specialised in Economic and Trade Cooperation, publishing several articles and chapters on International Trade and Business Law. He is now the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“The Australia Awards benefited me 150 per cent I think. It gave me more than I expected.”
Mr Tsogtbaatar has fond memories of Australia and the opportunities that were provided to him through the Australia Awards. He is now an avid member of the Mozzies (Australian Mongolian Alumni Association) community in Mongolia.
‘There is a sense of community, a sense of union of common experience. You lived in a culture and a society that leaves very fond memories in you. It’s sort of an addiction to go back to those days. These were the best days. We share fond memories and that is something that unites us. If an Australian calls and asks for something then that will be something that you need to do. It is a pleasure to help another Australian or Mozzie. If they ask for something you know that they will be asking for something that is worth supporting. As friends you always try to support each other’.
Like many Mongolians, Mr Tsogtbaatar undertook his undergraduate studies in Russia but was particularly supportive of the Australian approach to higher learning.
‘Australian education puts more emphasis on the applicability of knowledge – the knowledge to be applied in life. It polishes those areas that you are going to be immediately using in life.
It is very pragmatic’. It is this pragmatism that Mr Tsogtbaatar finds most appealing for his own work as he helps Mongolia move towards a full market economy.
‘Australian education made me different and it helps me. It is the equipment that I have gained and that I use. You become very pragmatic and efficient I think. For example, when you do your work you always know that there is an end user and you want to make it easily understandable to that person – very concise, logical, interconnected and also very novel. That’s a very market economy oriented pattern of thinking’.
Indeed, Mr Tsogtbaatar claims that the Mozzies’ exposure to policies and practices Down Under has influenced some of Mongolia’s own policy decision making processes.
‘In this country the law on government revenue expenditure is based on New Zealand experience, done by the Mozzies. People look Down Under for experiences. People have this orientation towards Australia – you have these systems and laws in place that are valuable to look at’. The advantages to Australia in fostering bilateral support and investment are also clear.
‘You get altruistic supporters of Australia. If Australia comes up with certain international initiatives you try to help. When it comes to Australian investment it’s natural that people here, particularly those who have been educated in Australia, will be supportive. It’s not paying dues – it’s a conviction that Australian companies have good technologies, good ethics – so it is the knowledge of the system and the knowledge of the real value they can bring’.
The returns on such investment extend beyond those than simply the scholarship recipient and the work they do. It is clear that other incidental returns are also being achieved.
‘My family benefited too’, said Mr Tsogtbaatar. ‘My wife has never formally studied English but when we travelled to Australia her English improved and that has now helped her to receive a scholarship in Tropical Hygiene. My daughter also picked up English there. For all this, in Mongolia, it wouldn’t have been affordable to me’.
Author – Peter Nolan
Last updated: 26 July 2013
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