For me, it’s about being part of a team that is the Adventurers of the Year. A whole group of people made a huge effort toward this project—people from University of California, San Diego, local Mongolians, the Mongolian Academy of Science. This project has made me realize that anything in the world is possible, as long as you have the support of your friends. That makes all the difference in the world. And that’s taken to a larger scale now that the readers of National Geographic Adventure have offered their support. They definitely nominated everyone who has been involved, not just me.
Turning my education in engineering into one of the greatest adventures of my life has been a huge journey. The idea to search for the tomb of Genghis Khan occurred to me while backpacking with friends in Mongolia. I came back dreaming of doing something outrageous, something that everyone thought was impossible. But to continue to work on it. To have your friends believe in it. To have your family believe in it. And to have your colleagues believe in it. It really makes me believe anyone can do anything.
Our long-term goal is to set up some protection mechanism to preserve the cultural heritage of Mongolia, which has had a huge impact on the rest of the world. The Mongols basically created a lot of what we know of as our modern history. Genghis Khan was one man with a dream. He was the rejected son of a nomadic family who was left to die in the woods. He rose to power, uniting all his people, and then turned outward and basically built an empire larger than Napoleon and Alexander the Great combined. And that story really hasn’t been told completely. It’s been looked at from different perspectives, but the greatness of his achievements, in a lot of ways, is underestimated. That is a major goal of this project: To share the true history of the foundation of our own cultural past. It will be a long process, but we are hoping, with the support of the public and people of Mongolia, we can to help preserve their cultural heritage.