White Lake of Terkh River

“White Lake of Terkh River.”

In the spring of 2022, I had the opportunity to encounter a nomadic family consisting of four extended families in Tariat, located in the middle-west region of Mongolia. They relocate their houses, commonly known as Gers, and livestock four times per year according to each season. One prominent feature of the region is the expansive body of water called 'Tsagaan Nuur,' which translates to 'White Lake.' While I was with them, the families settled down near the lake with their livestock to carry out their work.

During my first visit to Tsagaan Nuur, I mainly focused on documenting the nomadic lifestyle of the family. However, upon my return visit and prolonged stay during the harsh winter season, I broadened my focus to include various subjects concerning the area.

As time passed while spending time with them, my curiosity about their customs, behaviors, and culture grew. However, whenever such moments arose, I found myself constantly hindered by the barrier of communication. Our interactions primarily relied on non-verbal communication and brief exchanges of words. Neither English nor Korean, which many Mongolian people learn as a second language, could be effectively used for communication. Translator apps were not feasible due to unreliable internet connectivity when they went outside.

I immersed myself in observing their daliy lives and helping their work to gain a deeper understanding. Over the course of one or two weeks, a mutual comprehension of each other's life patterns and habits gradually developed between the family members and me. In particular, Ariunjargal, who was taking a ringer in the photo, was the individual with whom I spent the most time, and despite the language barrier, she understood me the most.

Throughout my journey, I learned the ability to comprehend individuals despite the presence of language barriers and fostered profound connections with the families. I immersed myself in their daily routines, the community dynamics. This project highlights the potential for understanding between individuals, even in the absence of a shared language.