Mongolian literature draws U.S. ambassador
by Caitlin Strasser
Friday, March 05, 2010
Addleton: Western hosts more Mongolian students than any other place in the U.S.
Jonathan S. Addleton, the United States ambassador to Mongolia, came to Western on March 4 to speak to Western's Mongolian language class about Mongolia, and to visit Western's Mongolian studies collection, the largest Mongolian collection in the U.S.
The Western Front spoke with Addleton.
What is the most interesting aspect of being an Ambassador?
It’s a real honor and a privilege. I think it is fun because it is a broad range of issues. It is also being able to engage with the people in my society both on an official and an unofficial level as well. It is those relationships which underscore our relationships to the countries I enjoy and I like about being an ambassador.
What did you do here at Western?
Basically I have had a chance to interact with the faculty that is interested in Mongolia, and I have had a chance to visit the Mongolia studies collection, which is one of the best in the United States. I also had the honor to speak about and discuss Mongolian issues with the beginning Mongolian class , which amazingly enough has more than 30 students. There would be no other place in the United States where you would have this many Mongolian students.
What do you think the most interesting aspect of Mongolia is?
I think it is a combination of the landscapes and the culture that is most interesting. I think if one were to visit, and was interested in that nomadic society, that history, which
goes back to Genghis Khan, those would be the attractions. The music is quite amazing as well. It is an interesting culture, and quite a beautiful landscape.
What do you think students would gain most from visiting Mongolia?
I think a student, regardless of what their interest is; whether it is a scientific topic like biology or development, or environmental issues, or economic issues would enjoy visiting the country. One way or the other, Mongolia deals with those issues, and in your own discipline you could use those as a case study for particular areas of interest that one might have.
What opportunities are available for students interested in Mongolia?
People would probably want to come by train, from the Trans-Siberian, or maybe up from Beijing, and they could spend some time in Mongolia, which is where 40 percent of the people in the country live.
But they would probably want to go to the countryside as well. They could go to the north near Siberia where there are lakes and rivers, maybe visit the place where Genghis Khan was from, or often what attracts people is simply the Goudi desert, which is in the south. Each one of these places is a different kind of experience, but each one involves adventure travel.
What did you like most about Western?
Well, interestingly enough, it is also the landscape here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. This is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to visit Seattle and Bellingham. Flying into Bellingham in the morning and seeing those mountains, and the water and the islands; those are the kind of landscapes I like.