- INT 301 - Engaging the World: Modern Mongolia
- IGS 380/POL 392 - Resources and Development in Mongolia
Service Project Description:
Mercer On Mission: Mongolia provides a unique service-oriented experience in one of the most remote yet fascinating countries in the world. Situated between Russia and China, it is also all that remains of the great Mongol Empire that once stretched from the Pacific Ocean to Europe. Yet its influence remains important today, both in Asia and beyond.
Eight centuries later, Mongolia is a society in transition, experiencing dramatic and far-reaching change including a ten-fold increase in GDP in only twelve years (2001-2013). While remaining the world’s most sparsely populated country, Mongolia is also increasingly urban-based, featuring one large capital city (Ulaanbaatar, home to 1.2 million, representing perhaps 40 percent of Mongolia’s total population) and a variety of provincial towns (the largest of which, Erdenet, numbers 80,000).
Not surprisingly, rapid change has had social consequences in Mongolia, including the emergence of large income disparities, both within cities and between urban areas and the countryside. As significant numbers of Mongolians give up their traditional herder livelihoods and move to Ulaanbaatar and elsewhere in search of economic opportunity, rural-to-urban migration has resulted in the emergence of large and crowded “ger communities” where local populations live in felt-covered tents. While often economically and socially vibrant, these communities also contain the bulk of Mongolia’s poverty and most of its social challenges.
The essence of this program is working within and alongside a population in transition. World Vision notes: “While Mongolia currently represents one of the better examples of an emerging democracy, the poor and vulnerable continue to face considerable challenges as they seek to establish themselves in the new international environment and seek to provide ‘life in all it’s fullness,’ for their children.”
Upon arriving in Mongolia, students will have the opportunity to understand the disparity in development among the individuals who live in Ulaanbaatar. Children of the Peak Sanctuary is “a project designed to help alleviate the suffering and neglect of the most vulnerable and marginalized children in an Ulaanbaatar neighborhood whose residents make a living and feed and clothe their families with items scavenged from the rubbish dump.” Currently, the project consists of a few buildings in “ger communities” surrounding the city. In a community in which alcohol abuse and despair is rampant, the Children of the Peak Sanctuary serves to assist parents and families. This program would contribute toward helping our partners achieve their goals. We will help expand English education programs and other social development programs for the children. In doing so, we will actively supplement efforts currently in place to give these children hope and the tools to work towards a brighter future.
Based on the networks and experiences of two members of the Mercer community -- one a former Peace Corps volunteer working in a grassroots educational level, the other a former Ambassador and USAID Mission Director working with senior government officials -- this MOM program give students a unique look at Mongolia as it has changed over the last quarter century while also providing hands-on opportunities to address them
Tentative Dates: Classes: May 13th - May 24th
Travel: May 29th - June 19th
For more information, e-mail MercerOnMission@mercer.edu or call (478) 301-2992.