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Exploring the Community: A Journey of Empowerment

The Partnership is one of many non-profits that participate in the Community Engagement Exchange Program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by IREX, it brings together emerging leaders worldwide eager to get out in the community. This program offers a transformative leadership experience for civil society leaders tackling emerging issues, including women and gender issues. Nomin-Erdene Zorigtugs joined the Partnership as a Community Engagement Exchange (CEE) Program fellow for a three-month practicum. 

Q: How did you come across the Community Engagement Exchange (CEE) program fellowship, and why did you join a maternal and child health organization for your CEE practicum?

 A: I stumbled upon the Community Engagement Exchange (CEE) program while searching for opportunities to make a difference in my community. Out of over 6,700 applicants from 100 countries, I was fortunate to be among the 142 community leaders selected worldwide. My journey into maternal and child health advocacy began about 2.5 years ago when I became a mother myself. Through personal experiences during the perinatal period, I encountered numerous challenges, including financial strain, social isolation, and mental health issues like depression. Sadly, I discovered that many Mongolian women, like myself, were unaware of postpartum depression symptoms and hesitant to discuss mental health with healthcare providers. Motivated by these challenges, I sought opportunities to address the needs of mothers and families in my country. Joining a maternal and child health organization for my CEE practicum felt like a natural choice. I was eager to immerse myself in initiatives aimed at supporting and empowering communities, especially women, during the vulnerable stages of pregnancy and early motherhood.

Q: What have you learned during your time at the Partnership, and how do you plan to apply the knowledge and skills you have learned in your work in Mongolia?

A: I have learned a lot during my practicum at the Partnership. First, I started to learn about the Partnership’s programs by connecting and meeting with employees from many different backgrounds, cultures, and values; it was truly a remarkable experience that broadened my view about the maternal and child health field. It helped me understand how important it is to change the paradigm in maternal health by supporting and empowering the communities. 

I am learning about many initiatives, including emotional well-being programs, educational workshops, symposiums, and family events. I can gain hands-on skills by co-facilitating support groups for new mothers. It is also my first time learning about the Doula program and how mothers receive support from a doula during pregnancy and delivery. This is amazing to me!

I believe that learning about all these programs and gaining rich experience in maternal and child health will help me bring new ideas and develop programs in my community in Mongolia. I have a strong passion for empowering women (especially mothers) by creating an initiative and supporting the communities in my country.

Lastly, I have improved my soft skills such as teamwork, communication, time management, decision-making, and leadership.

Q: What are some obstacles you’ve faced since you came to the United States?

A: Cultural and food differences might be the first obstacles I have faced since I came here. It was quite difficult to adapt to the food options and eating routine, and I am still not very well adapted yet. However, this is part of the adventure!

Q: If you could share anything that stood out from this experience, what would it be?

I would say colleagues and their common values would be the highlight of my practicum experience. I just feel so honored to work at the Partnership and proud to be part of a team working very hard every day to improve maternal and child health and ensure all families are healthy and happy. Every family deserves the opportunity to thrive.   



During her time with the Partnership, Nomin had the opportunity to attend many events and explore.  (Top) Nomin celebrated International Women’s Day at NJPAC, (Bottom L) Nomin joined the Emotional Well-Being team for “Resorting our Joy” and met NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy and (Bottom R) Nomin spent her free time exploring New York City and taking in the sights.