ETA Spotlight: Mat Goldberg and Hannah Shannon

July 4th, 2017

Mat Goldberg (ETA 2014-17) and Hannah Shannon (ETA 2014-16 and current JET ALT) are joining forces to design a cross-cultural, leadership English camp for Korean and Japanese students this summer. Amid their busy schedules, they gave FKAR the inside scoop to the upcoming Korea Japan English Camp. Read on to learn about the inspiration, potential challenges, and more for the Camp!


Diplomacy in Action: Korea's Youth Participate in YDAC

January 21st, 2017

Students across the Jeollanam-do region express their opinions over a variety of topics.

Shortly after Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the American presidential election, forty Koreans specially selected from the provinces of Jeollabuk-do and Jeollanam-do huddled around tables at a U.S. diplomatic facility in Gwangju and debated what the new administration might mean for their country.

For 60 tense minutes, they drafted a speech that sought to address how Trump’s threat to decrease American military aid might complicate already dicey diplomatic problems on the peninsula, foremost being how to counter North Korea missile testing without disrupting trade relationships with an increasingly assertive China.

It was easy to forget that these events unfolded not in a situation room but a library, with the interlocutors not diplomats but high school students.

You’d even be forgiven for forgetting that the students delivering speeches at the Youth Diplomacy and Activism Conference, or YDAC, were speaking knowledgeably about international diplomacy in what for them was a foreign language.

Participants pose with Consular Officer Morton Park after the competition.

Ten high schools from across the Jeolla region sent students to the fall 2016 YDAC, a one-day event for the students of Fulbright ETAs to develop their English skills by debating issues affecting Korean society with their peers. ETA Anthony Cho started the YDAC program in 2011, and hundreds of students across Korea have participated in YDAC events in the years since.

The event format closely resembles Model United Nations. About a month before the Fall 2016 conference, Fulbright ETAs at participating high schools selected teams of four first and second year students, and those teams then picked a topic, researched, and wrote speeches under their ETA’s guidance.

On the day of the event, the students and teachers traveled from their respective schools and convened at the Gwangju American Corner, a resource room connected with the U.S. Embassy in Korea. The U.S. Embassy typically sponsors the conference, but in cases where funding has been unavailable, ETAs or their schools have covered the costs for lunch and transportation.

Once at the American Corner, students took turns presenting on topics ranging from Korean education policy to presidential impeachment, from artificial intelligence to disputes over international and territorial waters. After each presentation, the students had time to ask questions and challenge the presenters on their arguments.

The morning session finished with a presentation by Consular Officer Morton Park, who traveled from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul to talk to students about his job and what diplomacy looks like in practice.

After eating lunch together at a nearby restaurant, students from different schools divided into teams to tackle a diplomatic “mock crisis” — something of a misnomer this year since the Trump-focused scenario adhered more closely to actual events than past crises.

YDAC 2016


Utilizing Regional Alumni Facebook Groups

January 21st, 2017

FKAR is happy to announce the creation of the Regional Alumni Facebook Groups! 7 groups have been created in cities with heavily populated program alumni. These groups are meant for you to easily connect, network, and share relevant information with the Fulbright Korea community in your area.

Below, you can find the group closest to your current residence and become a member. FKAR is planning to create more groups in the future, so hold tight as we work through this “beta phase”.

Program Alumni in Atlanta

Program Alumni in Boston/NYC

Program Alumni in Chicago

Program Alumni in DC

Program Alumni in Houston

Program Alumni in Korea

Program Alumni in San Francisco

Don’t see your city? If you are interested in creating a Regional Alumni Group in your area, please contact FKAR for more information on how to get started!


FKAF Grant Recipients

April 18th, 2016

Written by Janine Perri, ETA 2015-16

Every year, the Fulbright Korea alumni network raises funds for current Fulbright ETAs to undertake community and research projects. The purpose of these project is to complement ETAs’ work in the classroom or explore pressing social and political issues that affect Korea today. This year, the “Fulbright Korea Alumni Fund” offered eight grants for projects ranging from winter camps and student magazines to in-depth studies of healthcare or technology. Here is an overview of this year’s FKAF grant projects.

If you are interested in donating to the “Fulbright Korea Alumni Fund,” head to the Support Us page for more information.

Community Grants

Robert Little: Cultivation For a Cause – English Language Engagement and CCD Prevention Through Community Gardening

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From the biophilic benefits from access to nature to the organic conversations that grow from communal work, tending to a garden together provides human benefits that reach further than the plants cultivated.  Robert’s FKAF project enables students to revive a forgotten garden on the outskirts of the school campus, integrating the a lunchtime conversation class with an interdisciplinary school project to promote awareness of apian colony collapse disorder.  Robert is thrilled to authentically use English with his students outdoors in a way that is meaningful to the environment, their physical and mental health, and as a bridge to their previous studies.

Katrin Marquez: Our Art, Our World

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Katrin’s project was a winter camp for low-income students at Chipyoung Middle School, which incorporated art and social issues education into an engaging English curriculum designed to empower students through self-expression. Having seen how many of her students were artistically inclined, but lacked the resources to participate in art classes and other opportunities, Katrin designed the curriculum around the creation of various arts pieces reflecting ideas of personal and social significance for the students.

Maeve Wall and Alessa Strelecki: It’s Okay to Be Different: Special Education English Programming

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Maeve and Alessa designed a diversity program for special education students in Daegu, South Korea. Their project aims to give students a safe space to practice English in collaboration with peers and their parents. Students will participate in dialogue regarding diversity and difference within cultures and particularly the special education community.

Allana Wooley: Attention

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Attention is a student-run creative arts journal to celebrate the creative work of students at Masan Girls’ High School. A group of 13 students will design an advertising campaign, solicit submissions from their peers, select the best pieces, and format the journal. This project will offer the student population at Masan Girls’ High School a platform for their voices and ideas, while giving the student staff an opportunity to practice leadership and total agency over a task with a tangible deliverable.

Research Grants

Abhik Pramanik: Entrepreneurship from Technovalley to Silicon Valley: Drivers of and Barriers to Korea’s Sustainable Growth

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In the past 5 years, fearful of a long-term slowdown in growth, Korea has put intense focus on fostering a creative economy built on entrepreneurship among Small-to-Medium Enterprises. Abhik’s research will focus on the impediments to growth for small tech-companies in Daedok Techno Valley, the “Silicon Valley of Korea.”

Jeremy Sanchez: Health Care Access for Racial Minorities: Korean Solutions to American Challenges

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As globalization further fosters cultural exchange and immigration across nations, it is more important than ever to solve the problems related to poor health care access for racial minorities in the developed world. How Korea addresses these issues may well provide us with insight as minority populations increase in America.

Rebecca Shin: An Analysis of the Human Insecurity of Women on the Korean Peninsula

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In this paper, Rebecca analyzes the security of women on the Korean peninsula influenced by political ideologies and military measures. She argues that the negative peace experienced by women was itself gendered and created by gender. This analysis is significant because it uncovers the results of gendered national security measures.

Allana Wooley: Following Their Art: Non-Academic Aspirations Among Korean High School Students

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The prevailing cultural narrative holds that Korean students should study hard and aim for a top university with the goal of a good, stable job. This research takes Masan Girls’ High School as a case study, surveys students on hagwon attendance and perceptions of the arts and their futures, and includes in-depth ethnographic interviews and hagwon observations of students pursuing non-prescribed paths of art, music, or dance.


Beyond Politics: Connecting with the North Korean Community

April 17th, 2016

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Photo caption: LiNK’s English Tutoring and Cultural Exchange Program

By: Matt Walters (Fulbright ETA 2015-16)

The subject of sensationalist buzz, alarming news reports, and controversial comedy films, North Korea receives a great deal of attention that often obscures the plights of ordinary North Koreans. Many within Fulbright Korea , however, have come to look beyond the face-value images they are inundated with in order to make a positive impact within this unique, often disadvantaged, community. From larger and older programs like Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) to newer ones, such as Running 4 Resettlement, plenty of opportunities for involvement exist. These are stories of how grantees have made North Korea an integral piece of their time in South Korea.

Current Fulbright Korea junior researcher Joyce Kim has been conducting her research on Liberty in North Korea. Founded in 2004, the nongovernmental organization has made great strides in rescuing and resettling North Korean refugees hiding in North Korea. As Kim explains, “LiNK’s vision is to work with the North Korean people to accelerate change to North Korea.” Kim further outlines four main initiatives of the program: rescue, resettlement, empowerment, and “changing the narrative.” LiNK has rescued and resettled over 400 refugees, but also provides education and career information to further assist the defectors. In addition, the program’s over 250 worldwide teams work to, as Kim describes it, “shift [media] focus from the high politics to North Korea’s changing society and the people’s potential as agents of change.”

In addition, several Fulbright Korea ETAs are involved in NKD, or the North Korean Defector program. As a part of this program, ETAs both mentor and teach English to North Korean students. Nikki Brueggeman, a current ETA in Jeonju, comments that even her short time participating in NKD has broadened her perspective.

“When we look at North Korea, I think we tend to…overlook the human aspects,” she says. “But working with [the students] has helped me see that they are children first. They love stickers, they love to color, and [love to] laugh. It has made me see North Koreans in a new light.”

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Photo caption: At the starting line of the Kim Dae Jung Marathon

Three-year participant and regional coordinator Cait Cronin offers a similar viewpoint to Brueggeman. She notes the tremendous contrast between the attitudes of her high school students she regularly teaches—at one of Korea’s top four high schools—and the North Korean student she has mentored for the past three years.

“For [my high school students], understandably, class is often viewed as an obstacle [or] a memorizable soundbite; for my resettler student, however, class is only ever an opportunity,” she says.

She finds the growth and progress of her mentee particularly inspiring. Cronin adds, “When I visited Pyongyang in 2014, I saw students using computers as bookstands because there wasn’t enough power to access even the country’s domestic internet service—and that was the top 1% elite.” Such powerful images and anecdotes point to the continued importance of NKD as an essential program.

Cronin also leads another program called Running 4 Resettlement, or R4R. The program, while not officially affiliated with Fulbright, has seen great success since its conception two years ago by ETA Eric Horvath. The program draws inspiration from NKD, and aims to contribute donations to Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR). NKHR aims to allow North Korean refugees in China to exit the country safely. Those interested can sign up to run in the Kim Dae-Jung Peace Marathon on Sunday, June 12, all the while fundraising to support NKHR. Even those not interested in running may still donate to help the cause. Further details can be found at R4R’s website.


Ben Harris & Judith Foo: Open Windows

June 7th, 2015

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First-year ETAs and creative writing aficionados Ben Harris and Judith Foo are coming together to start a new initiative aimed at showcasing the creativity of Korean students.

The project will take the form of a satellite student literary magazine in partnership with Fulbright Infusion, the long-standing literary magazine that highlights creative works from Fulbright grantees. The name of the magazine is Open Windows, intended to represent the freedom of creativity and opportunity, and it is currently accepting rolling submissions (through current ETA nominations) for its first online publications.

Ben and Judith say that they came up with the idea through a shared desire to see their students have more motivation and encouragement to write.

[This initiative] is important because our students are often told that their success is measured by their test scores. They don’t have many chances to write analytic or expository essays for classes, much less creative work. But so many of our students are extremely talented and deserve not only to have their work published, but to feel that their talent in this regard is attention-worthy, commendable.

The ETAs say that the magazine as an online publication is only the beginning. “One day, we’d love to see it become a print magazine. […] For right now we’re excited about what’s in the works, and we can’t wait to go live and start seeing what these students can do.”

Keep an eye out for the first issue of Open Windows Magazine, coming your way soon!


Infusion Literary Magazine

May 22nd, 2015

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Infusion is a literary magazine that strives to capture the diversity of the Fulbright Korea experience and to support artists in the creation of work which honestly engages with their grant year and their craft.

The Infusion staff would like to invite current grantees and alumni to take advantage of the opportunity to be published in the Spring 2015 issue of Infusion, which will appear online and in a print edition. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at midnight (Korean Time Zone).

Submissions should be emailed to infusion.submissions@gmail.com. Please contact the Editor-in-Chief at fulbright.infusion@gmail.com with ideas, questions, or concerns. Read the current volume of Infusion here.


Reflections From FKAF Grantees

May 22nd, 2015

The Fulbright Korea Alumni Fund provides grants to ETAs for community engagement or research projects that promote cultural understanding. With the help of FKAF grants, Fulbright Korea grantees are able to pursue projects that not only impact their communities, but also enrich their own grant experiences. Featured here are reflections from two recipients of the grant, first-year ETAs Deborah Wood and Johanna Yun. The diversity of their research projects reflects the varied backgrounds and intellectual interests of our ETA class.
Our thanks goes out to all alumni who have contributed to the fund this year, and who have made these two projects and so many more possible. If you are interested in contributing to FKAF in future years, please contact eta.coordinator[at]fulbright.or.kr.


Korean Students Speak: Best Educational Blog

January 1st, 2015

Congratulations to Korean Students Speak (KSS) for winning Best Educational Blog at the 2014 K-Blog Awards!

Created by a Fulbright Korea ETA, Korean Students Speak is a project that encourages students to creatively voice their opinion in the midst of their otherwise test-focused academic lives. The blog also provides an opportunity for people from around the world to get a glimpse of the attitudes, ideas, and dreams of South Korean students. Since its launch, KSS has grown tremendously, with the blog now showcasing the work of over 2,000 students. As we enter the new year, we are excited to see that number continue to grow from the efforts of students in English classrooms all over the country!