Emma Browne in Mongolia.
Emma Browne in Mongolia.
16 November 2009

To most Queenslanders, enduring the harsh Mongolian winter doesn’t sound appealing.

But to The University of Queensland graduate, Emma Browne, the below-30 temperature adds to the charm of the country she considers one of the world’s most enchanting places.

So much so that Ms Browne will miss the UQ Centenary celebrations in 2010, and after a brief return home to see friends and family, recently headed back for another twelve months.

“Mongolia is a bizarre place,” Ms Browne said.

“Despite its extreme weather conditions, Mongolian people are warm and incredibly resilient, and politically it’s such a fascinating time to be here as they transition into democracy”.

One of her fondest moments from her first Mongolian experience is ice skating on Lake Khuvsgul, which required no less than a 15-kilometre skate to the local Ice Festival.

“The experience was amazing; the skating, the fishing, riding on a horse sled across the frozen lake. As you skated or sledded across it, you could hear the ice cracking as loud as thunder,” she said.

“I would have been worried, except I had seen the chain saw struggle to cut through two metres of ice for fishing”.

Ms Browne, who graduated from UQ with a Bachelor of Arts (Russian and German) and a Bachelor of Social Science (Development) first moved to Mongolia in August 2008 as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, a program run by AusAID.

On her current trip, Ms Browne will work for a local NGO, the Institute of Education and Training.

She will be working on several different projects, but will primarily be focused on delivering another AusAID program, Australian Development Scholarship.

No stranger to travelling, Ms Browne was born in Zimbabwe, and then lived in Botswana, Zambia, Poland and the Netherlands, before her family arrived in Brisbane in 2002.

“My parents wanted me and my brothers to have an education in English, and we had family who lived in the area,” Ms Browne recalls as the reason why they moved to Australia.

But her family’s migration south wasn’t without hiccups and worrying nights.

“My younger brother is a national swimmer, and was easily able to move here,” she said.

“But it wasn’t as easy for my older brother, who has a disability, and didn’t meet the Public Interest criteria.”

Her brother was initially refused residency, but the local community rallied and petitioned, and Ms Brown’s family successfully appealed the decision.

It all worked out for the best, and now Ms Browne and her brothers can proudly say they have all studied at UQ.

“My younger brother David will graduate at the end of the year with a Bachelor of Economics, and my older brother Andrew completed the LATCH-ON* program. It’s great that we got the education our parents wanted us to have”.

*LATCH-ON is The University of Queensland's Literacy and Technology Hands On program which provides a literacy program for young adults with intellectual disabilities.

Media contact: Shannon Price at UQ Communications 07 3346 7660