June Featured ETA: Mike Roderick

June 6th, 2016

FKAR sat down with current first-year ETA Mike Roderick to catch up and talk about his experiences this grant year, including his plans for the future.

Mike originally hails from the13256055_1842741649286685_9111024469416038579_n northeast in a little state known as Rhode Island. He loved it there so much that he stayed in-state for college, attending University of Rhode Island, a school that may or may not have ripped off UNC when they decided their school colors would be baby blue and white and their mascot would be a ram. But Mike found a home there, as he double majored in political science and history as an undergrad and studied elementary education as a graduate before getting certified to teach first through sixth grade – guess where?! – in Rhode Island. Mike embodies what it means to be a Rhode Islander, or at least so he says, as this writer knows no other person from there to confirm or deny his claim. But it is surely a claim most from the state should want to embrace because, quite frankly, Mike is a great guy. Despite believing fool heartedly that soccer will catch on soon in America, Mike is a fun-loving, kind soul that makes everything he takes part in just that much more exciting and full of life.

 

Those are only a few of the reasons why the quaint, little city of Jinju was lucky to have Mike this year as an elementary school teacher. Mike has spent the last ten months teaching at Chunjun Elementary School (천전초등학교). And by all signs, it has been a great fit. Mike will go on and how about how much he loves his third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. Not in a bad way, but in a way that makes you wish that you and every other teacher in the world were as obviously made for the job. It goes without saying that Mike had the same adjustment period to South Korea that most all of us Fulbright ETAs face, but he quickly overcame such obstacles, sometimes just by weathering an awkward situation with a smile and his characteristic chuckle. Mike has shared his journey this year with all of us through Facebook photos that will have you wondering whether or not he always just has a photographer following him around to capture the sweetest of moments you could imagine. It is seriously unfair. What is also unfair is how great Mike’s homestay family is. Sure, they were a little apprehensive before our departure day because all they had was a picture of Mike with a buzz cut which led them to hypothesize he might be a “military tough guy”. Sure Mike was a “military brat” so to speak, having lived all around the world as he grew up, but they quickly discovered his congenial attitude, which all of us current ETAs have come to love, and it was a match for the ages.

Mike, his nine-year-old host-brother Do Hyun, and his host parents Sang Wook and Keumsoon all love their situation so much in fact that… they will all be renewing for another year! Mike is overjoyed for the opportunity of another year to continue to build off the relationships he has formed this year in Jinju. Though it will eventually mean tougher goodbyes, as students like Minju, a beautiful girl in his school that despite her developmental disabilities has made an immense effort to build a relationship with Mike by visiting him every day just to spend time with him, will be graduating and moving on to middle school this winter, Mike is confident and excited in his decision to stay. “One more year! One more year!” – and we could not be happier for him and wish him the best as this first year comes to an end and his second year is just beginning!


"Opportunities in Korea/Non-Profit" with Chelle Jones

June 6th, 2016

Chelle Jones (2006-2009 ETA) has her B.A. in History (’06) from the University of Chicago and her M.A. in Korean Studies (’14) from Seoul National University, South Korea. Her MA thesis contrasted feminist movement discourse with South Korean Supreme Court judgments by analyzing the sex trafficking prevention case law and local social movements for sex workers’ rights. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology at The University of Michigan, focused on social movements, power, gender and sexuality. During her eight years in Korea, she took an active role with nonprofit organizations, including being the founder of the Korean chapter of anti-street harassment organization, Hollaback! Her session will focus on how she connected her Fulbright experience with her current studies in sociology, while shedding light on how to bridge the gaps between your background, your experience as an ETA, and future goals.


"International Education & Admissions" with Stephanie Tao

May 10th, 2016

Stephanie Tao is the Assistant Director of International Admissions at Loyola University in Chicago, IL, where she manages recruitment territories in Asia and Oceania. She graduated with a Master’s degree in International Higher Education from Loyola University and was a former ESL Teacher from Wuhan University in China. Her session focuses on her experiences recruiting international students for enrollment and steps taken to get into this field of higher ed.


Spring Photo Contest Winner

April 18th, 2016

“Snapshot of the School Year”

Remember the chaos of starting a semester with a brand new set of students? How about the times your students stopped you for the occasional selfie while running around in the hallways? We want to highlight these moments and thus the theme for this contest is “Snapshot of the School Year”.

This photo was submitted by Mike Roderick, ETA 2015-16.
His caption: “준비 되었나요? – junbi doeeossnayo? = Are you ready?”

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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.


On Catching the K-Pop Bug

April 18th, 2016

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Written by Emily Mann, ETA 2014-16

A sarcastic “Yeah right” is likely what you’d get from me, were you to somehow travel back to spring 2014 and tell me that after going to South Korea for my Fulbright grant, I’d become a fan of K-Pop. In my short few years of adulthood, following the Dark Ages of my music taste in middle and high school, I can hardly say I’m a pop enthusiast. Sure, if we’re talking pop as in The Beatles, I’m all in. But for the most part, my American musical taste is more centered around indie, hip hop, and alternative. To get an idea of what I’d normally listen to, don’t think Ariana Grande or Justin Bieber — think more along the lines of Talking Heads, Kendrick Lamar, Vampire Weekend, Kanye West, Grimes, and Animal Collective, to name some of my favorites. When I saw social media posts from previous Fulbrighters who spoke to the infectiousness of “K-Pop,” I was dubious that the genre would offer anything of interest to me.

The beginning of the end of my K-Pop resistance was the day I learned my placement school was an all-girls high school in Mokpo. Emphasis on the “all-girls” part. Of course, some boys here also like K-Pop, and many of my students couldn’t care less about it. That being said, I can’t deny the popularity within my school of my students’ favorite K-Pop groups (or “idols,” as they’re called here in Korea).

Upon going to my school, I felt that being young and a woman was an advantage in cultivating good relationships with my students, and I was right. But in the beginning, I didn’t quite feel like our interests lined up enough for us to have lots to talk about. Cue my K-Pop self education.

While I don’t pretend to be an authority on K-Pop, and my knowledge is very much limited to idols I’ve stumbled across and happened to like, I have found that even my limited, selected knowledge has helped me form bonds with my girls. Students want to connect with their teachers, but just as I sometimes feel shy about reaching out to them, so do they. And sometimes, all it takes to start a conversation is noticing the Big Bang sticker on a student’s pencil case and mentioning that you love their music, too. These seemingly small moments have meant that my students feel they can relate to me more and make students who aren’t comfortable speaking English feel they have a safe, easy-to-discuss topic to talk to me about.

All this being said, what started off as a way to become closer to my students, later became genuine interest, much to my own surprise. Now, after nearly two years in Korea, I’ve been to four K-Pop concerts, two each of Big Bang’s and Winner’s concerts. (Big Bang is arguably the most famous K-Pop group in the world, and Winner is a group that debuted in 2013 with the same label as Big Bang.) That first Big Bang concert, my first K-Pop concert, is what tipped me over the edge and into solidified interest in the genre.

Whether you know a lot or nothing at all about K-Pop, these concerts are worth seeing at least once. The changing sets, costumes, and the spectacular lights alone are with the ticket money. The sweeping ballads, electrified dance numbers, and soulful love songs are moving and impressive, and of course they’re coming to you from performers who have been trained in song and dance since before they even hit puberty.

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Besides the performers and spectacle of K-Pop concerts themselves, seeing the way fans consume these concerts is fascinating. Fans shout disarmingly coordinated, catchy “fan chants” during many of the songs. For many idols’ concerts, fans carry light-up sticks to wave during the concerts, these lights costing about 15 U.S. dollars and coming in colors and designs specific to each idol.

Seeing the fans at the concerts I’ve been to, many of them being the same age and gender as my students, is a wonderful reminder of why I got into K-Pop in the first place. Becoming interested has helped me understand Korean pop culture and the mindset of young people here. I’ve been able to learn new Korean vocabulary and grammar structures, and through this pop culture and Korean knowledge, I’ve grown close to many students who I might not have otherwise had common interests with. Two years ago, I would never have imagined I would know off the top of my head things like that G Dragon, the leader of Big Bang, was born on August 18th, 1988 and loves cats and Chanel. But taking interest has affected my grant years for the better.


A Comparison of Korean and American Education

April 18th, 2016

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Written by Kelsey Nestel, Fulbright ETA 2014-16

In the last 5 years, I have taught 8 elementary schoolers about emotions, 50 sixth graders about the voices of diversity in the Harlem Renaissance, 22 struggling seventh graders how to read, 74 advanced tenth graders the morality of science in an evolving society, 63 frustrated super seniors the importance of literacy, 49 transitional international students how to ask questions, 16 international adults how to speak to their landlords about the leak in the kitchen, and now over 700 Korean high school girls how to see the beauty in themselves. I am an English teacher.

So the real question – “Is teaching in South Korea really all that different from teaching in the U.S.? The short answer is “YES!” First, let me clarify that in the States, I taught English with a big E. Regardless of the student demographic, I saw at most 90 students a week, and I worked with them closely every day on topics ranging from literature, to comma splices, to writing 5-paragraph essays. In South Korea, I teach English with a little e (p.s. you should always capitalize the e), but let me explain. In South Korea, I teach English as a foreign language. Not that big of a difference? You’d be surprised. I’m not their primary English teacher. I am the brilliantly weird leader of their fun, once a week, conversational class. Nothing I can’t handle. Oh, did I happen to mention that I teach exactly 489 students? And that they are all girls?

After I recovered from the little surprise that I was actually teaching a completely different subject, it was easy to settle down into the consistent pattern of daily teaching. Just kidding. The Korean class schedule often feels erratic (unless you have a rockstar co-teacher), specifically in the spring with last minute changes for festivals, sports days, class trips, and the ever important testing. Teaching here has certainly taught me to be flexible, but my coworkers have also always been extremely kind and helpful. The administrative side is also a bit different. The U.S. is currently pushing towards more rigorous standards, greater accountability, and more administrative oversight. Although this might only be because I’m the foreign teacher, in Korea I’ve never been asked for a curriculum plan, a lesson plan, or been observed by anyone other than a few timid mothers (open classes where parents can come and watch … this is a thing).

Other differences in the schedule include the proliferation of down time. In the U.S., you can only expect to have one free period for planning each day while here in Korea I might have anywhere from 2-4 free periods a day (this is at the cost of longer work hours). While U.S. teachers are typically expected to be either in the classroom or in the office during this planning time, Korean teachers take advantage of their bonus hours to take naps (we even have a designated nap room), go out to lunch, or run errands. Catching an American teacher asleep on the job is a faux pas.

As for students, they are the real pleasure of this job. I have always loved my students, but there is something truly special about Korean kids. Behavior management is completely different in the Korean classroom. In the U.S. I might expect tardiness, talking back, cell phones, being unprepared, and overt rudeness. In Korea my biggest, struggles are talking (but not because they are ignoring you), sleeping, and cell phones. When you’re in-classroom management fails in the U.S., you can usually count on the school to have a behavior management support system in place. My school here doesn’t seem to have any kind of system, or at least not one that I have access to. I typically take care of concerns in class through clear expectations, routines, and sheer force of will. Class presidents are also handy for stepping in when the class gets too noisy.

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In addition, the students here are under an immense amount of pressure. Between long school hours, night study, and evening academy they have far more seat time than U.S. students. Although my girls spend so much time at school, they are still willing to give so much of themselves in a way that most American students would be too “cool” for. They continuously surprise me with their enthusiasm, their energy, and their love.

After hundreds of hours of research, planning, aligning content to state and national standards, assessing for learning, adjusting for learning differences, and grading, it only took me 5 years to realize that teaching isn’t about the English.  It is  about finding the humanity that exists in all of us, from the 8-year-old boy who knows more Chinese than Korean, to the 14-year-old girl who insists that her math teacher hates her, the 16-year-old girl wondering if it’s safe to be herself, the 19-year-old working extra hours after school to help feed his siblings, the 20-year-old pixie-like Indian girl who never stays down for long, to the 40-year-old Pakistani man learning enough English to work a drive-through because he left his physician’s license back in his home country. Teaching is about building students up and giving them the love, support, and confidence they need to succeed.


Getting It Right in the New Year

April 18th, 2016

“Cheers To A New Year And Another Chance For Us To Get It Right.” –Oprah Winfrey

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What’s your New Year’s Resolution? ETA’s share their goals for the year…

  1. Every day, I write at least one good thing that happened that day. At the end of the year, I will have at least 366 (yay leap year!) good things from 2016. –Rachel Castillo
  2. To read as many books as it takes to reach the height of my host sister when she is standing up! –Hannah Stevlingson
  3. Learn enough Korean to phone order chicken to my apartment. –Jonathan Balmer
  4. To speak through my fears (inspired by Nayyirah Waheed’s poem, “The freedom in fear.”) –Esther Kim
  5. Read the Bible – it’s time. –Tiffany Monreal
  6. Stop thinking about how next year will be better, and starting to improve this one! –Samanta English
  7. To not blow all of my money on lattes–at least for 1 month –Monica Mehta
  8. Pay for my mom to come to South Korea. –Breauna Oldham
  9. Complete a three-day Jirisan ridge hike. –Anna Faison
  10. To eat more fruits and veggies and to consume more water. –Haley Horstemeyer
  11. Write down all of my expenditures at the end of every day so I can be more aware of how I spend my money. –Dawn Angelica Barcelona
  12. To focus on the good, and not let the bad (things I can’t control) stress me out or bother me. –Kristen O’Brien

Alumni Spotlight: Where Are They Now?

April 18th, 2016

The FKAR team had the privilege of interviewing 5 former junior researchers and ETAs working in a variety of fields, including technology, film, public health, art, and education. Laura Ahn, Stephanie Ahn, Mina Fitzpatrick, Tivon Rice, and Carolyn Straub generously offered to share their insights on the Fulbright experience and its impact on the work they do today.

Laura Ahn, ETA 2013

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What is your current occupation?
Earlier this year, I worked at Perkin’s School for the Blind in Massachusetts. Now, I am student teaching in a substantially separate classroom, which specializes in severe special education, while completing graduate studies at Boston College.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
Love what you do and take advantage of every day as an ETA. You have so much to offer your students, not only by teaching English, but also by sharing your experiences, which are so new to them. In the same way, your students have so much to offer you—their experiences and culture. Be an influence in South Korea and be influenced by South Korea. Also, make sure to explore the rest of the world during this awesome time in your life!

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
My experience at Hanbit School for the Blind confirmed my passion to work in special education and my desire to change society’s view of those with disabilities. The relationships I formed with students at Hanbit made working in this field more personal, which lit a fire in me to use these experiences to make a difference.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
Being a Korean-American in South Korea was both a blessing and a curse. I looked Korean and so there were expectations imposed upon me, from unfamiliar social etiquettes to a complete understanding of the language. It was tough navigating social and language barriers especially because there were no physical ways to distinguish myself as a foreigner. The Korean mindset often felt foreign to me, thus I struggled with identity and felt certain cultural disconnects. After a while, I learned from my Korean-American background in order to make my experience in Korea special, personal, and meaningful. This can look different for everybody!

What is your personal motto?
I don’t have a personal motto, but my general view on life is that we are a miniscule part of this world. Things may seem so grand in the moment, but really, our problems are insignificant in comparison to the big picture in life. I live day-by-day remembering that I am just a small part of a larger picture. Though, I have experienced many struggles in my life, they remind me to live my life with a smile on my face. Those same struggles remind me to live “yulshimhee,” because the world has more to offer than adversity. 

(Yulshimhee – “Work hard. Believe. Never give up and stay strong”)

 

Stephanie Ahn, Junior Researcher 2008

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What is your current occupation?
I am a Program Officer on the Market Dynamics team at Results for Development Institute in Washington DC. We apply business-oriented approaches to increase access to health commodities in developing countries.  

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current Junior Researcher?
Take the time to really engage with the communities that your research is about and also with the host country’s culture in general. You’ll be surprised by the amount of data, information, and stories you collect by just listening and showing interest in the world around you.

How did your experience as a Junior Researcher impact your life’s work?
My Fulbright research further validated my interest in public health and issues affecting children, in particular. It also showed me areas of growth that I needed to address moving forward in order to be an impactful public health practitioner.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as a Junior Researcher?
I often times would feel frustrated because I had an idea of what I wanted to further investigate or implement, but was unsure of the best way to go about doing so. Pushing myself to take risks and asking for help when I needed it were the only ways I persevered.

What is your personal motto?
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, everyday is a new opportunity “…to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, [and] to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

 

Mina Fitzpatrick, ETA 2011

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What is your current occupation?
I am currently in graduate school, studying to get my MFA in Documentary Media at Northwestern University.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
Use your time in Korea to explore your interests, and be open to change. Don’t just do what you’ve always done.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
Journalism was one of the ways I connected with my students, and it was also how I explored my new environment. I allowed myself to explore the idea of doing a documentary, which led me to a career as a documentary filmmaker. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
From the beginning I taught alone, and created all of my lesson plans. Learning to do all this, while also learning how to manage a classroom, motivate students and use discipline was the greatest challenge I faced. 

What is your personal motto?
Be Kind.

 

Tivon Rice, Junior Researcher 2011

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What is your current occupation?
I am finishing my PhD in Digital Art and Experimental Media at the University of Washington, where I teach studio courses on video art, digital photography, and contemporary visual culture.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current Junior Researcher?
Try to connect as much as possible with your host city’s local cultural scene. Even if it falls outside of your specific research area, go to concerts, independent art shows, flea markets, and performances. You will be amazed who you meet when you engage with individuals at these events.

How did your experience as an Junior Researcher impact your life’s work?
Living, studying, and making artwork in a completely different culture helped me identify what was either very personal or very universal about how I understood a particular topic. I have carried this into my current projects, and see it as the most valuable, enduring aspect of my Fulbright experience.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as a Junior Researcher?
Reverse culture-shock upon returning to the United States. After a year of excitement and daily discoveries during my Fulbright, I have found myself constantly looking for the next opportunity to engage with a new community or individual, either locally or abroad.

When and/or where were you most happy?
During my Fulbright year in South Korea! I was fortunate enough to be joined by my wife for the final 6 months of my research, and our child was born at the local university hospital shortly before returning to the States. We recently re-visited Korea with our now 3-year-old “Fulbright Baby,” and were able to share with him many of the sights, neighborhoods, and foods that were part of my daily life as a Jr. Researcher. 

 

Carolyn Straub, ETA 2009

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What is your current occupation?
I am a project manager on the Google team, which does three main things: 1. Writes the Google help center for consumer (non-ads) products, 2. Trains the vendors who do phone/email/chat support for Google users who have questions about consumer products, and 3. Drives the analysis of user feedback to share back with product.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
My biggest piece of advice is to just really enjoy the grant year–it’s a magical, special, awkward, evolving experience that can shape who you become forever after. Don’t hold back, try everything, go everywhere, meet anyone.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
My grant year truly changed the course of my life. I was accepted into a PhD program in Ethnic Studies and deferred to do the Fulbright. Throughout the year I realized that I no longer wanted to pursue a PhD, despite having spent the past 4 years driving towards that goal, and took the risk to enter one of the worst job markets in US history instead. My year in Korea not only changed the path I took after the grant was over, but instilled in me a courage to take bold risks with hopes for high rewards (happiness!).

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
Everyday in Korea involved a little something awkward (slurping spicy hot soup into my eyes in the cafeteria) or a little something uncomfortable (trying to explain to my host mother that I’d prefer she doesn’t do my laundry), and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable was the biggest challenge and the greatest reward.

What is your personal motto?
“Go after happiness”
I truly believe that if you wait for your life to inspire happiness in you, that you will be perpetually disappointed. Feeling efficacy to enable happiness is a beautiful and powerful feeling.


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.