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Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Funds Two WIU Summer Seminars for High School Teachers

March 18, 2005

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MACOMB, IL - - Three Western Illinois University faculty members and an academic adviser have received funding from the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) program to lead Illinois elementary and secondary teachers on summer seminars to South Korea and Ethiopia.

Geography Professor Siyoung Park and University Advising and Academic Support Center Assistant Director Patricia Jones received a $67,000 grant for the June 15 to July 14 program, “Understanding Korea Today: Traditional Values and Modern Technology.” Park and Jones have worked together professionally for the last 25 years in activities related to international education at Western Illinois.

Community Health and Health Services Management Associate Professor Fetene Gebrewold and Educational and Interdisciplinary Studies Associate Professor Carolyn Ward received a $61,000 grant for the June 6 to July 11 program, “An Intercultural and Educational Exchange between Ethiopia and the U.S.”

“We are excited and proud to say that Western Illinois University received two of only 60 Fulbright-Hays GPAs awarded nationally,” said Thomas Tomlinson, director of Western’s Center for International Studies. “The study trips to South Korea and Ethiopia will provide a wonderful opportunity for Illinois teachers to enhance their understanding of these cultures and incorporate this into their teaching.”

The Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, contributes to the nation’s international education infrastructure by supporting ongoing teaching and research about the peoples, cultures and events that shape our world, according to the DOE’s website, Participants serve as informal cultural ambassadors, exchanging knowledge and culture while overseas.

The four-week June 15 to July 14 GPA to South Korea is designed for 12 secondary social studies teachers, primarily from downstate schools with limited resources. Teachers will learn about the history, politics, culture and modern technology of South Korea through learning experiences delivered by prominent scholars. The application deadline is Friday, March 25; contact Park ( or Patricia Jones ( for additional information and application materials.

The five-week June 6 to July 11 GPA to Ethiopia is designed for 12 social science educators in Illinois K-12 schools. Program goals include building relationships and bridges of understanding while increasing teachers’ knowledge and understanding about Ethiopian culture and society. The application deadline is April 13; visit to download an application.

“I hope this is the beginning of a new chapter at Western Illinois in international education,” said Park, a native Korean who is deeply involved in the process of infusing Asian studies into the undergraduate curriculum. “The Center for International Studies has brought this renewed effort and awareness on campus, and I am encouraged with the strong support from President (Al) Goldfarb and Provost (Joe) Rallo to internationalize our campus.”

More information about each program is listed below.

Understanding Korea Today: Traditional Values and Modern Technology
“Korea is a window to East Asian culture,” said Park. “It is a bridge between Chinese and Japanese cultures, and the importance of learning about and understanding Korea cannot be underestimated.

“This peninsula has been pointed out as the most volatile area of the world due to the established nuclear capacity of North Korea and the long history of animosity between the two entities,” Park added. “Any teacher of history, economics, political science or social studies must consider both the ancient traditions of the culture and the modern technology of this region in educating our current students.”

The purpose of the four-week seminar is to educate social studies teachers about Korean culture as well as some basic Korean language to globalize their curriculum. Teachers will experience lectures, briefings and observations of traditional cultural activities in addition to exposure to state-of-the-art scientific technology, such as that found in the technopolis of Daejon. The program has carefully woven such specialized areas as the Koheung Aerospace Center, the Uljin Nuclear Power Plant and the pollution-free POSCO Gwang Yang Steel Plant with the ancient Andong Confucian Village, the UNESCO-designed World Heritage site of Gyong Ju and the unique aquaculture of Jeju Island, Park explained. Teachers will be provided airfare, accommodations, ground transportation and a food allowance.

An Intercultural and Educational Exchange between Ethiopia and the U.S.
According to Gebrewold, who was born and raised in Ethiopia, the five-week program to Ethiopia has been designed to build relationships between U.S. and Ethiopian teachers, students and communities. The participants will be immersed in Ethiopian language, culture and education, he added.

“The teachers who participate in this program will be linked with 12 Ethiopian teachers and they will work side-by-side, learning from one another,” Gebrewold said. “Our teachers will gain a new perspective that they will bring back to their classrooms in the States.”

Project activities will take place in Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital; Bahir Dar, capital of the Amhara Regional State to the northwest of Addis; and Harar, a historic city in the southeast. During the first week, each participant will undergo an intensive language and culture study in SIL (Summer Institute for Linguistics) in Addis Ababa. Participants will also undergo further orientation of Ethiopian culture and society led by three Ethiopian educators. Phase two will consist of teachers being paired with an Ethiopian teacher, while phase three consists of visiting historical and educational sites. Teachers selected must attend two pre-departure preparation meetings in Macomb from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays, May 7 and 14. Teachers chosen to participate will be provided with air travel to and from Ethiopia, per diem expenses, lodging and fees for participation. Participants will be required to pay for tuition for six WIU graduate hours (approximately $906).

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