Four future educators traveled to South Korea during the summer, where they shared U.S. culture to two groups of fifth grade South Korean students.
The trip was part of an exchange program that Findlay’s College of Education has with Chinju National University of Education (CUE).
Chris Moser, Ed.D., assistant professor of education, traveled with the group. Chris Sippel, director of international education, helped prepare the students for the trip. Both Sippel and Moser have been to CUE in previous years and are familiar with the school and the geographic area.
According to Sippel, educators are encouraging future teachers to gain international experience to help them become better equipped to deal with the growing diversity in U.S. classrooms and also enhance teachers’ abilities to help young learners develop the intercultural skills necessary for success in the interconnected world.
The four students – Sarah Kuney, Brittany Hreha, Adrian Mitchell and Jenica McEnery – were selected to participate through an on-campus application process. In South Korea, they had the opportunity to visit schools in the country and also teach. Two students taught one fifth grade class, and two students taught another.
The focus of their curriculum was comparing and contrasting U.S. culture, customs and norms with those in South Korea, specifically looking at how schools operate. For example, in South Korea, students remove their shoes upon entering the classroom, and in the U.S., they do not.
Mitchell, a junior middle childhood education major, participated in the UF Ambassador Program when students from South Korea came to Findlay. She connected with her partner, Ella, and developed a desire to learn more about the Korean culture firsthand.
“The experience was so much more than I expected,” said Mitchell. “I went in thinking that I would have a good time and that I would mainly be sight-seeing and learning about the education system. Although part of the experience did include those things, there were also other aspects that made the experience one of a kind.”
“I enjoyed being completely submerged into a new culture,” she continued. “I have a better understanding of how Koreans live and why they live that way, and I get to share that knowledge …”