World Deaf Leadership
Name: Namiraa Baljinnyam
Field of Study: Special Education
My name is Namiraa Baljinnyam. I was born and raised in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I received my education from both hearing and deaf schools. When I was a student at the Deaf school, I noticed that most of the students had very poor abilities in our native language, and they received a poor quality of education. When I left the school, I promised myself that I would return and help deaf children learn their native language as best as possible. To achieve my goal, I decided to educate myself first. I graduated from The National University of Mongolia in 2005 with a B.A. in linguistics because I believed that I should excel in our native language in order to teach it to deaf children. Right after graduating, I enrolled at Mongolian State University of Education and graduated with my M.A. in Educational Studies.
Since there is no Deaf Education program at Mongolian universities, I dreamed for a long time of studying at Gallaudet University. Finally, I received the World Deaf Leadership (WDL) Scholarship from the Nippon Foundation, Japan, to study at Gallaudet University.
I enrolled at Gallaudet as a graduate student, majoring in Deaf Education, in 2010. I learned that early intervention is the key to supporting and facilitating deaf children's language acquisition, as well as their cognitive and social/emotional skills. In 2012 I enrolled into an Early Intervention Graduate Certificate Program in conjunction with my Deaf Education major. I am currently further developing my WDL project along with my schoolwork. My WDL project is named "The Future in Our Hands." It is a proposal to establish an early intervention program in Mongolia. I graduated from Gallaudet University with my master's degree in the summer of 2013.
My special thanks go to the Nippon Foundation. The WDL scholarship's support is very great. It is like a dream come true. It opens our eyes to the world's Deaf community, opens the door that had been closed for Mongolian Deaf people, gives many opportunities to study abroad, and supplies professionals who will work on the development of Deaf community. Actually, there are no professionals who specialize in bilingual Deaf education in Mongolia, so I am glad that I am the first one who specializes in Deaf education as well as early intervention.
My WDL scholarship does not just benefit me, it benefits the Mongolian Deaf community as well. For example, our Deaf people are unsure of their abilities to get higher education and their right to receive qualified education. Furthermore, our Deaf community doesn't know about Deaf culture, Deaf value as well as Deaf education. However, when I return to my home country, I will immediately give my best effort to build a strong foundation for Deaf Education as well as teach Deaf issues to Mongolian Deaf community. I want both our Deaf and hearing communities to understand the true meaning of Dr. Marlee Matlin's quote: "It may be true that life is challenging when you are unable to hear, but believe me when I say the real 'handicap' of deafness does not lie in the ear, it lies in the mind."