Woody Packard

Words + Pictures

Scholarship Outreach

Secondary School Students, Altai
Among the diplomatic successes that the United States has had around the world is the Fulbright Program, the purpose of which is the 'promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.'

Here, this program sends US scholars to Mongolia to study subjects of local importance, which have included topics in paleontology, archeology, ecology, and other environmental issues. It has also provided scholarship money to send promising Mongolian students to the United States for studies at universities there, and to place native speakers of both countries in language teaching positions at institutions where they are needed.

When Judy's teaching schedule prevented her from joining an outreach tour to secondary schools around the central part of the country to promote the scholarships, she offered me as a substitute, an opportunity I didn't hesitate to take when I was asked to go. I would be the only one of the team with experience teaching English at the university level in Mongolia.

For seven days we moved from town to town, with teams of embassy staff and Fulbright English Teaching Assistants. In addition to our scholarship information mission, there were also meetings with local government officials and organization leaders to provide information on grants that are available, and the presentation of English workshops for teachers and their students. When time permitted, we held a public meeting for parents and students that was translated into Mongolian in an effort to reach all who were interested.

I was part of the team presenting the informational meeting to encourage and inform students about the Fulbright Program and other opportunities for scholarship abroad. Other members on my team took care of the actual details of the application process. My part came from my experience working with students who had already graduated from the secondary school process here. For an academic year I tried to get them to develop the skills that these secondary school students would need for the scholarship application process: speaking and writing to communicate original ideas. I spent the short time I had stressing the difference between memorizing English lessons and lifting essays from the internet, and the harder but much more rewarding process of wrestling with English to gain the ability to communicate. As a language student myself, I hoped to convey both the difficulty of learning another language as well as its importance.

At each of the nine presentations I tried to explain that of all the reasons a foreign university might want to have a Mongolian student, their ability to copy perfect English is not one of them. In as blunt a way as I could muster, I told them that they will be forgiven mistakes in grammar or spelling. They will not be forgiven—or considered—for ideas that are not their own.

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Scholarship Outreach

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Radio Interview, Bayankhongor

Information for Students, Bayankhongor

Teacher and Students, Bayankhongor

Students, Bayankhongor

Scholarship Presentation, Altai

Scholarship Presentation, Altai

Seat Sharing, Altai

Scholarship Presentation, Altai

Students, Altai

Students, Jargalant

More Questions

Interested Students, Bayankhongor

Public Meeting, Bayankhongor

Embassy Speakers

Audience Questions

Students, Uliastai