UCLA International Institute
Asia Pacific Center

Advancing collaborative, interdisciplinary research on Asia worldwide

Education Grad Student Reports from Outer Mongolia

Education Grad Student Reports from Outer Mongolia

Wagatsuma Fellowship Recipient Hugh Schuckman starts fieldwork on Peace Corps and Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers

As a recipient of the 2011-2012 Hiroshi Wagatsuma Memorial Graduate Student Fellowship, Hugh Schuckman will compare Japanese and US volunteer development initiatives in Outer Mongolia.  A former Peace Corps Teacher Trainer volunteer himself, Hugh noted the diversity in understandings of “democratic” and “participatory” development within the organization’s staff and volunteers during his two years of service in Gobi-Altai, Mongolia. Now a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Hugh has returned to Outer Mongolia for six months in order to observe and interview Peace Corps and Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) at their volunteer work sites.  His dissertation research will centrally explore these diverse understandings of “development.” In addition, Hugh hopes to provide a platform for Mongolians to voice their own perspectives and experiences with US and Japanese development through interviews with Mongolians connected to Peace Corps and the JOCV.

Because Outer Mongolia is roughly the size of Texas, yet has a relatively small population of about three million people, many Japanese and American volunteers work in remote rural villages.  During his field research, Hugh will travel overland by jeep to meet these volunteers and their Mongolian counterparts.  Hugh noted that “With the Wagatsuma Fellowship funding, I’ve already been able to take a fantastic nine-week intensive Mongolian language class through the American Center for Mongolian Studies in Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar.  Throughout the summer and fall, this support will allow to me to access isolated volunteer sites in the Mongolian countryside.” Among his site visit plans, he will travel to the southwest Gobi desert, where he was stationed as a volunteer for two years, along with other lesser known areas such as the northern forested areas around Khovsgol Lake and eastern desert steppe plains in Khentii province.  By underscoring the diversity in Japanese, US, and Mongolian perspectives, Hugh hopes to explore potential development methods that most value Mongolians’ input in shaping the future of their unique country.