Brigham Young University–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III and first lady Monica S. Kauwe recently journeyed to Mongolia to meet with local Church leaders, cherished alums, and prospective students. The visit was of special significance for church members as it coincided with the 30th anniversary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' establishment in Mongolia.
Upon arriving in Mongolia, the Kauwes connected with the Ulaanbaatar East Stake President, Adiyabold Namkhai. For the next few days, President Namkhai kindly toured them around national monuments and parks. He also arranged an interview with Tseegii Smile, a news anchor from Mongolian News Channel TV. This interview would later be featured on national television, offering President Kauwe the opportunity to share insights about the unique values and diverse student body at BYU–Hawaii.
With over 60 Mongolian students enrolled at BYU–Hawaii, many of which are first-generation college students, the prospect of obtaining higher education abroad is a blessing many never thought possible. This opportunity stems from the IWORK program, which aligns with the university's mission of preparing students to be lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ in their families, communities, and chosen fields. The program emphasizes the university's commitment to preparing students to be leaders in their families and their communities when they return home.
Equally significant was President Kauwe's interaction with the prospective students of Mongolia, who were captivated by his presence and inspired by his remarks. Addressing these individuals with his enthusiasm for education, President Kauwe emphasized the transformative potential of education and the opportunities that await them at BYU–Hawaii. His encouragement to begin preparing today, both academically and spiritually, to qualify for the Lord's university inspired the youth to seek personal and academic growth.
Professor and university alum Tserennyam Sukhbaatar expressed the significance of President Kauwe's message for families in Mongolia, underscoring the desire among church members to not only prepare their children for academic pursuits but also to raise their spiritual standards. Elevating one's standards to reflect those of the Lord became a common topic of conversation as President and Sister Kauwe connected with individuals and families interested in the educational opportunities in Laie.
President Kauwe witnessed firsthand how the gospel and BYU–Hawaii work together to bless the people of Mongolia during his meeting with four alumni currently serving in the Ulaanbaatar West Stake Presidency. The joint leadership of these alumni stands as a testament to the university's role in strengthening the Church and its members in countries within BYU–Hawaii's target area.
The Kauwes also dedicated time to meet with other university alums, strengthening the BYU–Hawaii network and extending the spirit of Aloha to former Seasiders. When asked about the significance of the Kauwe’s visit, Tserennyam Sukhbaatar again highlighted the profound inspiration that President Kauwe's presence brought to alums residing in Mongolia and future students contemplating their journey to BYU–Hawaii. Sukhbaatar said, "Church members in Mongolia would have been pleased to see and meet any ambassador from BYU–Hawaii, so meeting with the university president was a special occasion."
Accompanying the Kauwes on their journey was Professor Felipe Chou of the Faculty of Religious Education. Chou authored the first-ever Mongolian church history book: "The Voices of Saints in Mongolia." His presence on the trip played an important role in encouraging members to participate in church callings and service opportunities nationwide. Having these university representatives visit the people in Mongolia was an incredible honor that will have a lasting impact.
Throughout the trip, the Kauwes immersed themselves in the rich culture and experiences of Mongolia, from climbing to the top of the Genghis Khan statue to engaging in various local customs. On one of their final days, President Kauwe, an avid fisherman, was able to spend a few hours fishing with local members at a picturesque backcountry river. These experiences further deepened the meaningful connections created during the expedition.
President and Sister Kauwe's presence symbolizes lasting friendships and meaningful connections. President Kauwe shared that the members he met will be "powerful influences for good for many decades." By the trip's end, he shared that the overall experience had been "priceless" with unforgettable people and places visited. At the same time, President Kauwe's example and testimony of the transformative power of education can inspire individuals to embark on life-changing paths of growth and learning. Their visit has sown the seeds of inspiration necessary to continue the legacy of BYU–Hawaii and elevate its impact on the lives of the Mongolian people.