Mongolian turned local South Dakotan

Mara Tiede, Journalism Student

Abi Mungunkhet has lived her life to the fullest. She has had numerous experiences throughout her life that have led her to where she is today, and arguably the most important is the fact that she is originally from Mongolia. 

Mungunkhet and her family are from Mongolia but have resided in South Dakota since Feb. 20, 2020.  She lives a busy life and is constantly on the go, which does not give her much free time to do whatever she wants. Mungunkhet is homeschooled and works during the day as well, but still understands the importance of doing her school work and staying on top of all her commitments. She also has big goals in mind for her future, and she aspires to meet them someday. 

“I plan on becoming an airline pilot. I am currently working on getting my private pilot’s license, and from there I will study aviation in college to get my commercial pilot’s license.”

Mungunkhet has always been someone who has wanted to accomplish great things, and her mom has helped her to do so. Back in Mongolia, her mom had a tv show, which led them to always getting recognized, but this attention never stood in the way of Mungunkhet or her desire to live out her dreams.

“I was recognized everywhere I went, people always acted familiar with me because they knew my mom from tv. Often people asked me if they could talk to her.”

Although they moved here a while ago and seem to be comfortable now, the main reasoning behind Mungunkhet and her family’s big move was not ideal. Many things led them out of their homeland, but the risk to Mungunkhet’s sister’s health was the biggest reason why, and South Dakota seemed to be the perfect place to move their family to at that moment. 

“[We decided to move] for a multitude of reasons. Mainly because my sister developed asthma from the pollution in Ulaanbaatar (the capital), and we needed to get away from that. South Dakota specifically because the organization my dad worked within Mongolia was based in South Dakota, so he already had connections for a job.”

Since her time living in South Dakota has been relatively short-lived, Mungunkhet has been able to recognize the differences between Mongolia and South Dakota. Many things are different, like the way we communicate with each other and even the different ways we get around town, but Mungunkhet finds that these differences make the world that much more appealing, and she values the different ways people live all around the world. 

“Everything is different; from transportation to language. Culturally, Mongolia and America are very different.”