On Tuesday, East Tennessee State University administrators unveiled their newest lab, an authentic Mongolian ger, for students to simulate real-life public and global health situations.
The traditional round Mongolian dwelling, similar to a tent, was showcased during a special event about Mongolian culture and history at the ETSU Valleybrook campus.
Jonathan Addleton, former U.S. ambassador to Mongolia and current executive director for the American Center for Mongolian Studies, spoke at the event about Mongolian relations with the United States and how the relationship has evolved over the years.
Another special guest at Tuesday’s event was Richard Kortum, an ETSU professor emeritus, who spoke about spending several summers in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia researching and documenting prehistoric petroglyphs.
Theresa Markiw, a former public affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia, said the majority of herding families in Mongolia prefer living in gers because it provides ease of mobility.
Gers are relatively light with the frames made of wooden lattice and thin wooden poles. Felt fabric is then draped around the frame and across the top. The haalga, or door, to the ger is always directed south.
Michael Stoots, an undergraduate coordinator in the College of Public Health, and students at the Valleybrook campus were responsible for building the replica ger, spanning 20 feet in diameter. He said it took roughly eight hours to piece together.
The Mongolian ger is now the seventh replica at the Valleybrook Niswonger VILLAGE modeled on actual dwellings from across the globe. Other replicas are modeled after dwellings in South Africa, Nicaragua, UNICEF refugees camps and even homeless camps in the United States.