There isn’t a single word that I can write to describe T-D’s travel-study junket to Mongolia.  No one I spoke to in our group of 46 could verbalize it in one word and words grouped together attempting to do so simply fell to the floor.

For those who dared to travel with ages of nine to 93, Mongolia came into their lives like a comet and it left as a coup d’oeil. 

Having escorted and led hundreds and hundreds of T-D family members to attractions around the corner and around the world, Mongolia was so perfect and so sublime that everyone forgot about negatives.  Imagine that!  So many superlatives were said; each one with more oomph than the other ones.  Everyone tried to out uber each other in describing an indescribable 11-day adventure.

Each day of the 11 was like a cavalry charge and each one more than satisfied the senses.  It went far beyond and satiated them.  No matter how high the level of expectation was set each day, it was surpassed.  It seemed almost impossible that with each new morning’s cavalry charge expectations would be met or rival any previous day.  Wrong!  Wrong again and again!  Wrong, even until the last day as T-D unexpectedly was greeted and received by the President of Mongolia.

Despite the imprint of globalization, Mongolia’s infinite horizons and blue skies gave T-D a journey of a lifetime.  It was somewhat wild to touch and feel the unexplored and experience the unexpected.  If one were unmindful of the comforts of modern life, Mongolia could be thought of as a leap into darkness.  For the 46 T-D family members who dared, Mongolia was a gold mine.  It was somewhat raw.  It was very real.  It was magic and it was exactly as described seven months ago in T-D’s two-word description – Magic Realism.

Two is a good prime number.

Douglas E. Fleming, Jr.


Student Experiences

The trip to Mongolia was very interesting, and it was a very fun experience. We learned much about Mongolian culture, and we got to participate in many activities and events. We visited many temples, museums, and other places where our incredible tour guide, Maggie, explained its importance to us. Aside from that, I made a couple of new friends on the trip and hung out with many of my old friends.

There were many great parts of the trip, but some of them stuck out to me the most. One of those events was the Eagle Hunter Festival. We were able to see the eagle hunters fly their eagles, and we even got to take a picture while holding the eagle in our hands. Another part of the trip that stuck out was sleeping in the ger. I thought sleeping in the ger was interesting because we were able to learn the difficulties of nomadic life from first-hand experience. One very memorable part of the trip was riding the camel. I had a great time riding on the back of the camel, and I wish that I could ride one every day at home, but I can’t.

And finally, the most insane and fun part of the trip was dog sledding. Dog sledding was crazy because the dogs were uncontrollably fast, and they do everything that you don’t want them to do. They were so crazy that they made me fly out of the back, and I had to quickly jump back on or else they would run away from me. I really enjoyed this and all the other parts of Mongolia, and I hope that I can go back one day.
by William Ohmes

Mongolia was the second trip I’ve been to with Thornton-Donovan School, and the first thematic one. I was accompanied by my 93 year old Grandpa Fred. It was real fun sharing this experience with him and more than 40 TD members. The thing that amazes me the most was how much history Mongolia has and how it is related to Buddhism and Shamanism, the two main religions of that country.

The tour guide was very professional as they were able to get the best out of everyday by well managing the time and choosing what was best for the group. I did not have much spare time and I liked that because it gave me the chance to explore and learn a lot about Mongolia. Other then cultural activities, we did a lot of physical activities, like: riding the two-humped camels, which were native to Mongolia, riding Mongolian horses, dog sledding with Siberian-Mongolian Huskies, and hiking the mountains of the Hustai National Park, where we saw a lot of wild horses and reindeers.We also visited the nomadic families, and saw how they manage their livestock and how they live in gers. One of the nights, we experienced a bit of the nomadic life, by sleeping in the gers.

This was once-in-a-lifetime trip, which I will never forget!

by Frenki-Samuel Lulgjuraj

“I went to Mongolia. When we first took off to the airport I was stressed. We then took off for a 13 hour flight, landed had a layover then went to Mongolia. In the morning we went to a buddhist monastery, it was so fascinating to see people chanting there and how beautiful it was. We went to museum and it was amazing so many cool things. We then went to a palace museum, which was a fast tour but still cool. We went a memorial and it was like 100 steps but beautiful.

We also saw the eagle festival. There are too many great moments to share all. Some of my personal favorites was dog sledding on the ice, horseback riding, camel riding,and the eagle festival. I have never traveled with TD until this trip. I could tell you that this was the best experience of my life ever. I became closer with many people on the trip. It was great for me because i needed experience in my life. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone. I seriously loved going and I picture going until I graduate. – By Jane Kessler

Indescribable. Mongolia is truly one of the world’s wonders. From the Gobi Desert to the exploration of the Przewalski horse, there’s truly no place like Mongolia. Each day came as if the one before didn’t end. Each night glistened a bright star out of a million others. Waking up every morning and opening the window, one can smell the coal being burned in the gir district just outside the city. All of us watching the eagle huntress call her eagle just like a friend asking for a helping hand was truly a glorious moment.

by Maya Dominguez

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about going to Mongolia. It was a place I knew little about. After a 14 hour flight, six hours in Beijing airport, and another two hour flight, we finally landed in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. I was excited to see what Mongolia had to offer.

We met our two tour guides, Maggie and Ashley, who would show us around this country that was unknown to most Americans. One of the most memorable nights of the trip was when we stayed in a ger (Mongolian traditional home). Our entire group stayed in a ger camp in literally the middle of nowhere. I have to say, the ger was well insulated and VERY warm inside. Believe it or not, that was my best night of sleep throughout the entire trip. Anyways, our guides showed us Mongolia in and out. We spend a lot of time in Ulaanbaatar going to museums, restaurants, and even meeting the President of Mongolia.

We also went to the countryside with its miles and miles of a beautiful mountain landscape and, of course, the occasional squat toilet visit. We visited many nomad families in the countryside and rode horses, camels, and dog sleds. Overall, Mongolia was an unforgettable experience, and traveling with TD made it 100 times better.

by Spencer Neuman