University News

Gwangju Summer Program at WIU

August 7, 2006

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois UniversityÂ’s Center for International Studies, in conjunction with Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad Projects Abroad (GSA) participants, recently welcomed 19 South Korean students in the Gwangju Summer Program with a traditional Korean meal.

The dinner, held in MacombÂ’s First Christian Church Fellowship Hall, was prepared by some of the participants of last summerÂ’s Fulbright-Hays GSA program for area high school teachers to return the hospitality they received in Korea, said Siyoung Park, WIU geography professor and co-leader of the 2005 Korea trip. Chefs included Fulbright-Hays co-leader and assistant director of WesternÂ’s University Advising and Academic Support Center (UAASC) Patti Jones, social studies teacher Diana Riley from Monmouth (IL), computer teacher Jay VanVoorhis from Astoria (IL) and science teacher Jack McKinnon from LaHarpe (IL).

Providing the Gwangju students with traditional food from Korea was integral in honoring the students and making them feel more at home, Jones said.

The menu included bulgogi, a traditional Korean beef typically used when serving guests; chop chae, cooked sweet potato noodles served with vegetables; bop, sticky white rice; sesame leaves; and two types of kimchee, spicy cabbage and radish, served as side dishes with rice in Korean meals. The meal concluded with fruit, a customary Korean dessert.

After dinner students introduce themselves and shared their most memorable experiences of the U.S., which included visiting the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, (IL), watching the television show “Friends,” discovering lightening bugs and the kindness they have experienced from Americans.

“I learned a lot about American culture during this American class. My major is English, that’s why I came here,” said Woo Jin, who prefers to be called Tiger while in America.

Gwangju students are also exposed to cultures outside of America, as they share their classes with 45 students from two universities in Mexico.

“I met a lot of people from Mexico, the USA and Saudi Arabia,” said Jin Won Kim.

The Gwangju Summer Program provides up to 20 Gwangju University students with the opportunity to attend Western for five weeks, during which time they are immersed into the English language and American culture by taking English language classes and participating in out-of-class cultural activities.

Program activities include industrial and farm tours, attending theatre presentations and sporting events, and visiting museums and popular landmarks. Students also participate in the Conversation Mentors Program, which allows small groups of international students to have conversations in English with American volunteers.

More than 130 Gwangju students have participated in this program since it was established in 2000 through the efforts of former WESL Director Lila Blum and Hyuk Jong Kim, a WIU alumnus and current president of Gwangju University. Kevin Timlin, assistant director in the Center for International Studies, coordinated this yearÂ’s summer program.

“Gwangju University goes above and beyond to allow motivated, bright and talented students to participate in the summer program,” Timlin said. “We really try to make the experience worth the students while, and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome of this year’s program.”

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