“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Another blackout. Another dark evening in Khovd – a small town in western Mongolia. I am eight years old. I whine and complain when I burn my hair on the flame of a candle while doing my homework. Next morning, I cry again while I am forced to walk along with my siblings for two hours to our vegetable plot…

As a child, I did not fully understand the economic struggles after the collapse of socialism in Mongolia. After the withdrawal of the Soviets from our country, we often lost electricity, food became scarce, and even my father disappeared in search of work. I did not understand how far my mother had to go out in the snow to buy candles, so that I had the luxury to study at night while others sat in darkness. I did not realize that the only way she could feed us was by walking ten miles to her two-hectare vegetable plot that she watered and tended entirely by hand.

At night, walking through the abundant sparkling lights of the HBS campus, I enjoy the world that my mother could only dream of for her children, the world that every mother dreams of for her child. I will go back to my Mongolia. I will be part of the new generation of leaders who will guide the country towards a productive, sustainable, and prosperous path. I want to rebuild Mongolia, so that no mother will ever have to trudge through the snow again, sacrificing every day to ensure a better future for her children.

— Nagi Otgonshar