October 25, 2018
It is not often that a UIC College of Dentistry faculty member gets to ride a camel at a dental meeting. But Dr. T. Peter Tsay, Professor of Orthodontics, did, as he brought the College of Dentistry’s influence all the way to Mongolia in September as he spoke at the Mongolian Association of Orthodontists meeting in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
About 200 orthodontists participated at the conference, at which there were 14 speakers from seven countries.
Dr. Tsay was invited by the organizer of the meeting, Dr. Ganburged Ganjargal, Head of the Orthodontic Department of the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences School of Dentistry. They had met at the convention of the Taiwanese Association of Orthodontists the previous year. Dr. Tsay is originally from Taiwan.
“The conference was surprisingly modern and well-organized” thanks to Dr. Ganjargal, Dr. Tsay noted. “He took it upon himself to bring the Mongolian orthodontics education and orthodontic practice to world standards as exemplified by orthodontics practice in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. The invited speakers of the meeting were department heads and well-known orthodontists from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India, Spain, Mongolia and the U.S.”
Dr. Tsay said that Dr. Ganjargal’s modernization ambition is “strongly supported” by Dr. Jadamba Tsolmon. She is President of the Mongolian Orthodontic Association and President of the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences.
“The meeting had all the hallmarks of a modern orthodontic conference, albeit smaller,” Dr. Tsay said, noting that Mongolia has only about three million people—about the population of Chicago. All courses were in English with simultaneous translations by Mongolian orthodontists.
After the conference, participants could stay for three additional courses, one a five-day lecture and hands-on typodont course offered by Dr. Tsay that was filled to capacity.
He noted that his trip to Mongolia helped announce the College’s presence on the world stage. “It also could attract quality applicants from Mongolia to apply to our program and spread our knowledge, values, traditions, and method of education,” Dr. Tsay said.
Dr. Tsay was able to enjoy some Mongolian culture as well. The Mongolian Association of Orthodontists held a welcome banquet held in a “gers,” which are portable, round tents like those used by Mongolian nomads. “Some of the gers in this particular restaurant/entertainment campus were so big that a banquet of more than 100 people could easily be accommodated in one,” Dr. Tsay said.
In addition to Mongolian cuisines, the banquet also had entertainment that included Mongolian dance, music, and opera. “The dinner lasted four hours,” Dr. Tsay said.
The restaurant/entertainment campus also featured Mongolian horsemen in traditional warrior outfits, and a range to shoot arrows and throw spears.
Dr. Tsay also went fishing, spent a night in a ger (“a little airy—it was 45 degrees F outside,” he said), went rock climbing, and visited a Buddhist monestery.
Ulaanbaatar, the capital, is modernizing quickly. “Construction was everywhere, as were private cars, and traffic and air pollution were terrible,” Dr. Tsay said. “However, the people are very friendly.”
And what about that camel? Dr. Tsay took a site seeing tour with Dr. Ganjargal, three other Mongolian orthodontists, and a prosthodontist, and they visited a tourist camp featuring 13th Century Mongolian life, “when Genghis Khan was the Mongolian ruler,” Dr. Tsay explained. The tour also visited warrior, school, food prep, and shaman camps.
“The camel ride was in a camp that showcases horses and camels,” Dr. Tsay said. “The Mongolian camel has two humps, which makes it relatively easy to ride. The camel is a large animal and it has to squat down to let a rider sit between the humps. It is quite an experience for the rider when the camel stands up.”