This Week @ UC San Diego

October 25, 2011 | By Christine Clark

Student Awarded Undergraduate Research Award for Research on Migrants

Richard Hong

Richard Hong

Richard Hong, ERC, ’11, was recently awarded the 2011 Undergraduate Research Award by the Forum on Education Abroad for his innovative research on migrants making dangerous treks through Mexico from Central America.

Before Hong graduated last spring, he conducted the research while he spent a semester in the Mexico Field Research Program in Mexico City/ San Cristóbal, Mexico. Hong’s studies focused on the growing presence of border enforcement in Mexico its affect on the flow of Central American migrants to the United States. The political science major conducted field research in Tapachula and commuted between the Mexico/Guatemala border towns of Ciudad Hidalgo in Mexico and Tecún Umán in Guatemala. His project used an ethnographic survey that he designed to interview undocumented Central American migrants.

Through his research, Hong found that greater border enforcement does not lead to greater security for immigrants crossing the southern Mexican border. “Rather than deterring migrants from entering Mexico,” Hong said. “Greater border security has actually forced them utilize alternative routes that make them more susceptible to certain dangers in their journey to the United States.”

The recent graduate is currently working in public safety at the City of San Jose’s mayor’s office.

Hong added, “It’s a great honored to be selected for this prestigious award. My research would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the willingness of the humble and courageous migrants who shared their stories and experiences with me. My hope is that we continue research in this field because it can lead to positive and constructive social change for communities on both sides of the border.”

The Forum's Undergraduate Research Award is a national competition that recognizes excellence in academic work completed by students as part of an education abroad program. Awardees, including Hong, will present their work in Denver, CO on March 23, 2012 at a plenary session at the Forum's eighth annual conference.

The Forum on Education Abroad is a non-profit association whose exclusive purpose is to serve the field of education abroad.

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