Urban Pioneers: Fulbrighters in Sejong

January 17th, 2016

Written by Alessa Strelecki (ETA 2015-16)

Seventy-five miles south of Seoul, you will be greeted by a newly developing (but soon to be burgeoning) metropolis. Sejong is currently a sea of apartment buildings, construction, and a 3.5 kilometer, horseshoe-shaped government complex. Though I may be biased, the best parts of Sejong are the 12 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) in different elementary, middle, and high schools, who call Sejong Metropolitan Autonomous City their home. We like to think of ourselves as urban pioneers.

This is the second year Fulbright has placed ETAs in this new city. Sejong was created to become the new administrative capital of South Korea. Since 2005, thirty-six different government ministries have moved to Sejong.

Sejong is growing rapidly and plans to have over 300,000 residents by the end of 2020. By Korean population standards, this is a relatively small number of people. The smaller city size, however, is something that the current Sejong “squad” looks forward to returning home to after traveling to different parts of Korea on the weekends. Grace Lee, a 2015-2016 ETA at Mirea Elementary School, testifies to the comfort of Sejong City saying the smaller population is something that she likes.

“When I come back to Sejong, its feels like home, without the hustle and bustle of big cities.”

The Sejong Squad has taken full advantage of living close to each other in the same city by meeting up for dinners to talk, eat pizza, and share their experiences at their different schools.

“Being surrounded by other ETAs has been one of the highlights of my grant year,” said Tess Zaretsky, ETA at Dodam Middle School. “I feel so lucky to have such awesome, supportive people to meet up with every week.”

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