Four Mongolian high school students are in Philadelphia this week learning how climate change affects the lives of teenagers here.
The trip is part of a museum exchange program between the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the National Museum of Mongolia.
“The ultimate goal is for the girls to know each other culturally, and obviously know a little bit more about climate change, and how it’s affecting them in Mongolia and how it’s affecting us here in Philadelphia,” said Betsy Payne, Women in Natural Sciences program manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences.
The Mongolian students and 15 Philadelphia public school high school students, all girls, took online classes on climate change and talked via Skype with their pen pals in the months leading up to the trip. They will develop lessons for their home museums on climate change from a teenage perspective when they return.
The participants met in person for the first time on Friday, the beginning of an 11-day program in the Philadelphia region. The group will learn about climate change from Academy of Natural Sciences staff, visit a Delaware marsh vulnerable to rising ocean levels and tour a farm near Lancaster.
Linda Gutierrez, a sophomore The Academy at Palumbo, said she is most looking forward to playing host to the Mongolian students.
“I’m excited to show them everything in Philadelphia,” Gutierrez said. “I researched so many pictures of Mongolia and it’s really different, so I want to show them everything there is possible to show them.”
Mongolian student Ulemg Baasanjav, meanwhile, is excited to get to work.
“For example our country has pollution,” Baasanjav said. “Pollution is a very big problem and I think in the future I fix this pollution.”
In July, five of the Philly students will visit the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, where nomadic herders are flocking to live as climate change and other stressors challenge their traditional way of life.