- Posted March 17, 2014 by
Washington, District of Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama
From Korea Study Abroad Student to Korea-America Student Conference Program Manager
My six months abroad in South Korea on a 2011-2012 Boren Scholarship were unforgettable. I discussed fate with Korean shamans, represented Sogang University at a badminton competition in Suwon, got used to “kimchi breath,” and attended a Big Bang concert. There, fans from all over the world-- China, Japan, Korea, the US, Europe-- waved their yellow glowsticks and screamed their excitement together as the five members of Korean pop band Big Bang strode onto the stage. Experiencing this solidified my belief that South Korea was playing an important role in bringing together youth from all over the world –especially East Asia-- around a common interest in Korean pop music.
When I returned to the US, I focused my senior capstone on Gangnam Style and the role of youth in resolving these East Asian historical and territorial disputes. I believed it was important to build bridges of common understanding between East Asian and American youth. As the future leaders of East Asia and the US, they would then be able to dialogue on decades old historical and territorial disputes between Korea, Japan, and China that have been inhibitors of peace and stability in East Asia. I continued examining mediums of youth exchange and especially Korea’s role in building a stronger East Asian community through conducting interviews of the Asian community for Voice of America, writing an article on the Korea-Japan youth exchange for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and helping to design exchanges programs at World Learning. Outside of work, I also promoted a vibrant online US-Korea and US-East Asia community through co-editing the KoreaBANG news blog, and founding “Voices of Asian America,” a blog that highlights the stories of the Asian community in the United States.
I recently accepted a full-time position as the Program Manager of the Korea-America Student Conference, which brings undergraduate and graduate American and Korean students for a month long conference to discuss facets of US-Korea relations. One of the topics to be discussed this year is the contentious East Asian historical and territorial issues. I feel fortunate to have really solidified my passion through my study abroad experience in Korea, and to be able to work first hand on building bridges between the future leaders of the US and Korea.
Note: The video I have attached of my experiences studying abroad in Korea was made last year.