Service-learning in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
The Jesuit Mission Office at Fu Jen Catholic University advocates an educational philosophy based upon service, therefore has been promoting service-learning since 1990s. Collaborating with the Catholic University of Korea, which has many years of experiences offering medical service in Mongolia, the Jesuit Mission Office organized a summer service-learning program in July 2007. The 13-day International Service-Learning in Ulaanbaatar has received very positive response from all sectors of the society.
Ulaanbaatar is the capital city of the Republic of Mongolia. From 1911 to 1921, Mongolia announced independence three times, and in 1924 the Republic of Mongolia was officially established. With land capacity of 1,564,115.75 km2,(ranking 18th in the world), and the population of 2,791,272 (ranking 134 in the world), but the density is only 1.73/km2 (ranking 193 in the world). 36% of its popularity lives under the poverty line and more than 35% of the total population lives on less than 0.3% of the country’s land. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, 80% of its economic resources rely on Mainland China. Korea, US (there are American schools in Ulaanbaatar) and many European countries actively expand its industrial investment in Mongolia due to political and economic concerns. A popular saying in Mongolia goes, “The Mongolian people are beggars sitting on gold bricks.” It faithfully portrays the fact that there is abundant resources in mining, animal livestock husbandry, and tourism in Mongolia, but most of the people in Mongolia still cannot afford a house of their own. Many of them reside temporarily with their relatives or live in yurts. There is a lack of running water and drainage system, and the roads are generally in bad condition. Another emergent problem is the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The whole nation is not only in the process of changing from nomad society to urbanization and evolving from communism to democracy. Not only the infrastructure and evolving also the mentality of its people, including human relations and social values, of the nation is under reconstruction.
The University actively investigates ways to help Mongolia move through its conversion process smoothly. In 2008, the College organized the Ulaanbaatar Mongolia Medical and Social Service Corps so that we could engage our faculty and students to serve in Mongolia. The service corps proved to be a great channel of diplomacy and also cultural exchanges. It also enabled the university to realize its mission as a member of Asia Christian University and Colleges Association (ACUCA) to “serve the weakest of our brothers.” Partnerships and links and abroad also help broaden the vision of our students and faculty members as they experience the diversity of the international society and contribute to the betterment of the global village.Through international service-learning, the university also achieves its educational goal to “develop a spirit of compassion and service as well as an active commitment to justice with a view to international solidarity.”