Erin Eidenshink ’09 got her first taste of living abroad while conducting research as an SMU undergraduate. Now she calls Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, home.
As an SMU sophomore, Eidenshink received a Richter International Fellowship to spend eight weeks in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third-largest city, researching gender roles and how they affect economic development programs in that country. Jill DeTemple, assistant professor of religious studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, served as her research adviser for the project in 2007.
“Dr. DeTemple taught some of the best, most challenging courses I took while at SMU,” she says.
The project “gave me a deep interest in international development,” she adds. “I knew after completing the Richter Fellowship that I wanted to find a job after graduation that would allow me to live overseas.”
As an SMU senior, Eidenshink applied for the Global Mission Fellows program of the United Methodist Church. Just a few weeks after earning bachelor’s degrees in journalism and German, she learned that she had been assigned to Mongolia’s capital city. During her 16-month assignment there, she taught English and worked with the young adult and children’s ministries.
After completing the assignment, Eidenshink returned to the United States, where she finished the second half of her three-year internship at a nonprofit in Omaha, Nebraska. Shortly afterward, she was back overseas.
“Mongolia is a country of incredible beauty, history and culture,” she says. “When I first moved here, an acquaintance told me that it is a place that gets under your skin and changes you forever.”
That friend was right. Mongolia did change her forever. For it was there that she met Tsogoo Davaadorg, the man she would marry in 2012.
“Before I met my husband, I knew that I wanted to eventually return to Mongolia, but meeting him was a good added incentive,” she says.
The couple just welcomed their first child, a daughter named Enerel Amaya, in March 2014.
Today, Eidenshink teaches first-grade English at a bilingual private school in Mongolia.
Thanks to the internet, SMU is never far away. She stays in touch with some professors through Facebook, and many friends keep up with her through her blog, Once Upon a Time in Real Life.
“I would encourage new SMU grads to stay connected with their department alumni groups and their professors who are a large wealth of information and knowledge,” she says.
She has even traveled back to the Hilltop a few times, once to show the campus to her husband. But when visits are not an option, she still finds ways to stay in the loop.
“My dad frequently travels to Dallas for his work, and he sends me pictures of the new buildings, fountains and other developments that have sprung up since I’ve graduated,” she says. “I may be on the other side of the world, but I still feel very connected to SMU and proud of my alma mater.”
— Sarah Bennett ’11