By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Neil Polzin, a 2006 Dassel-Cokato graduate, is becoming quite the world traveler. Having recently returned from a class trip to Europe, he now prepares for a semester of teaching in Mongolia.
Polzin is working to complete a degree in literature with a minor in history at Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall. His ultimate goal is to earn a master’s and doctorate in literature to teach at the college level.
This fall, Polzin will get his first taste of teaching at the National University of Mongolia, where he will help students refine their English. He will be gone from Aug. 25 through Jan. 15.
The opportunity arose when his American Literature professor, Dr. David Pichaske, asked the class if anyone was interested in teaching a semester there.
Thinking that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he shouldn’t pass up, Polzin raised his hand. He also said he was in the mood for traveling, having recently returned from conferences in Sioux Falls, SD, and Denver, CO.
Because he wants to teach literature, Polzin is excited to see how he teaches at this point in his education.
In Mongolia, he will be teaching American literature, composition, and American culture and history to Mongolinan students with an English base, Polzin said, meaning he won’t need to learn Mongolian.
He will be given a syllabus to follow as a guide, but otherwise, Polzin will have free range, he said.
This is also an opportunity to determine his teaching style.
“Hopefully, this experience will make me that much better of a teacher,” Polzin commented.
Polzin’s professor is confident he will have to do a great job teaching the Mongolian students.
“I don’t worry about Neil intellectually at all,” said Pichaske, who was first in Mongolia in 2003, on through the Fulbright Scholar program.
This program is set up through the US Department of State as a way to improve relations by exchanging students and teachers, according to Pichaske.
Though he has never been to Asia (Mongolia is between Russia and China), he just returned from a trip to England, Belgium, and France through a global studies class.
“I was able to get my feet wet in international travel,” Polzin said.
The trip was from May 10-24 and included landmarks like Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and Paris’ Louvre Museum.
Polzin fell in love with England, he said, particularly Bath, England, known for its ancient Roman ruins and natural hot springs.
Polzin also said he thought London was “brilliant,” and especially enjoyed being served English tea.
With famous artwork and amazing food, “Paris was like a dream,” he said.
Polzin saw the Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre and was able to get a picture in front of the “mob” of people that surrounded it.
One of his focuses during his seminar is Napoleon Bonaparte, and Polzin had the opportunity to visit Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides, a museum dedicated to the military history in France.
With a special interest in World War I history, Polzin also enjoyed the visit to the In Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium.
He also made a stop in Normandy.
Polzin is the son of Myron and Patty Polzin of Cokato.