Written by HyunCheon Kim / Translated by JaeMin Woo
After Korean-U.S. visa waiver program was created, visiting U.S. public school system gained popularity among Korean students. The programs were created so that the visiting students can focus more on learning American culture and making friends than merely learning English.
“I came to the U.S. to learn more about the different culture than just English,” said Jaemin Yoon (graduated elementary school), who was satisfied with his 4-weeks-long experience in America.
“The guys are different here. There are no bullies and they’re all friendly. We promised to stay in touch through E-mail,” said Jaemin, proudly mentioning his new American friends. Jaemin also added, “I’ll miss my wonderful host family and its house with a backyard,” and showed his affection towards his host family.
On the night of the 23rd, around 200 Korean and American students and parents gathered together to celebrate Korean Culture Night in Reading Parker Middle School auditorium.
40 visiting students, who participated in “Cultural Exchange Program” hosted by TAHS(The Academy at Harvard Square) and the U.S. Board of Education, invited American students and their parents and introduced Korean food, music and traditional games.
The students divided themselves into teams and arranged various promotional materials for Korean culture and even gave a presentation in English on the stage. Although their English was not perfect, they were applauded by the host students for their dedication and courage.
The visiting students made a tremendous effort to spread Korea’s modern progress by presenting both the past and modern Korea. They not only performed traditional music but also tried to spread Korea’s modern culture through PSY and Girls’ Generation dances.
PSY’s popularity was incredible despite its being a public middle school in a rural area. The students even held a Gangnam Style dance competition on the spot when the audience showed an explosive reaction when the song was played.
The American students and host families willingly participated and created an exciting performance with the Korean students.
ChaeHeeWoong, the co-emcee of the night with Austin Cohen, stated that “it was challenging to speak in second language in front of the audience, but I learned that students could still connect and have a good time regardless of cultural barrier.”
Chae also showed affection for Korean culture by expressing his concern for delivering false information on it because of his imperfect English.
The visiting students who participated in this program showed positive reaction to American culture. Some of the most appreciated aspects were the welcoming environment, active participation and respect for others’ opinions.
Jung Hye Min (9th grader), who was self-conscious about participating when she was in Korea, said, “I am not afraid to participate here because the atmosphere in classrooms is totally different here.”
Kim Suh Hyun (8th grader) said that the classes are more enjoyable in America because “they were participation-oriented and had no barriers between the teachers and students.”
However, the visiting students unequivocally complained about short break times and lunch periods. They said they got exhausted easily because unlike the schools in Korea that had 10-15 minutes long breaks, the schools they attended here had longer classes with short breaks.
Celebrating its third anniversary, the U.S. public schools visiting program hosted by TAHS and the Board of Education aims to teach both the Korean and American students about the differences in their cultures and allow them to find their identity through interacting with each other.
ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지