Ulaanbaatar hardly registers as dream destination for study-abroad scholars. But for a handful of Afghan students, all-expenses-paid undergraduate scholarships to study in Mongolia's capital city present a pragmatic alternative to life in war-torn Kabul.
In the bustling canteen of Mongolia International University (MIU), 21-year-old Nasim Sahel, an ethnic Hazara from Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Province, admits that before his arrival the only image he had of Mongolia was of people riding horses -- "and of course Genghis Khan.” Currently, Sahel and at least 22 other Hazaras study in Mongolia, most of them the recipients of scholarships specifically designed for members of the oft-persecuted minority group back home.
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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.