Matt D'Arcy: Resident Rocket Scientist

June 7th, 2015

Meet our Junior Researcher and resident rocket scientist, Matt D’Arcy. He is currently working with the Space Systems Research Laboratory (SSRL) of Korea Aerospace University (KAU) to build a 3U CubeSat (a small satellite that is 30x10x10 cm) to launch into orbit and take pictures of the Earth.

Matt, who says he was interested in space from a young age thanks to his grandfather’s work on major U.S. space projects (including the Apollo missions and the Mars Viking Lander), came to Korea after earning his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Drexel University. His plan was to conduct mission operations of the satellite in orbit, but he soon discovered that due to the unique build-from-scratch approach of the lab and the enormity of the project, the launch would be significantly delayed.

Matt says he quickly found that his mechanical engineering background and research experience had not prepared him for the electronics and computer programming-heavy work that awaited him. Not one to back down from a challenge, he spent the first few months of his grant year powering through several textbooks and tutorials to attain working proficiency in several computer programming languages and expand his practical knowledge of electronics. Matt says that tackling the steep learning curve that awaited him was both the most challenging and the most rewarding part of the year.

I had to learn entirely new skill-sets, but I had the time to sit down and learn them well, down to the nitty-gritty, as I did not have other courses or work pressures in my day-to-day.

Since then, Matt has become more involved in many aspects of the design and building process, but has found perhaps his most notable contribution in an entirely different area: project management. Matt says he faced an internal and cultural conflict with the work culture in the lab – namely, 20+ hour days and/or 6-day-long stints. During the series of all-nighters incurred for the construction process of the test model in particular, he worried that staff exhaustion could potentially harm the final product due to the extremely detail-oriented nature of the work. After careful discussions, Matt helped create a shift in work structure and new guidelines for the next construction process, introduced new team management software, and also reorganized much of the clean room and lab and helped institute policies for disposing of needles and other waste.

In the time he carves out away from the lab, Matt enjoys spending time with friends, exploring the Hongdae-Sinchon area he calls home, and hiking and biking in the spring weather. We wish Matt all the best in finishing up his project and his grant year!

Aimee Lee: Bringing Worldwide Recognition to the Art of Hanji 

June 7th, 2015

Aimee Lee, a Fulbright Korea alumnus, was recently recognized for her work with hanji in the Korea Times. A graduate of Oberlin College, Lee’s interest in hanji, otherwise known as traditional handmade Korean paper, grew during a Chinese Art History course in college.

Motivated by her interest to learn and pursue Korean traditional art – which is widely unrecognized in comparison to Japanese and Chinese art – Lee learned the process of making hanji from Jang Seong-woo, a Korean traditional paper making artisan, in 2009. Since then, Lee has used her Fulbright research, experience, and skills to spread awareness of the hanji tradition and to open the Anne F. Eiben Hanji Studio. Her studio, the first and only Korean paper making studio in North America, is located at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland.

Lee has also written the first English book on hanji, titled Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking (The Legacy Press, 2012).

To read more about Aimee Lee’s accomplishments, check out the original article on the Korea Times website.

Infusion Literary Magazine

May 22nd, 2015

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 Please contact the Editor-in-Chief at 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]

Widespread Changes to Native English Teaching Programs in Korea

May 22nd, 2015

As recent changes in government policy regarding Native English Teachers (NETs) in Korea have resulted in significant NET reductions, the Fulbright program has managed to maintain the size of its program. Because of the Fulbright program’s strong connections with schools and its teachers’ positive reputations, many of the changes effecting other NET programs have been minimized for Fulbright ETAs.

In 1995, several nation-wide and regional English in Korea programs began to promote the use of NETs in Korean classrooms to teach English. In 2011, Korea’s NET program reached its peak with nearly 9,000 NETs in Korea. Major cuts in numbers of foreign teachers have been made in the past few years, especially at the middle and high school levels. These cuts have impacted larger cities the most, and similar cuts are likely to continue over time.

A Letter from the Executive Director, Jai Ok Shim

January 8th, 2015

Dear Readers,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Fulbright Korea Alumni Relations website. The Fulbright Korea Alumni Relations Committee was founded by second year ETAs Patrick Cho, Brett Fitzgerald, and Elizabeth Philipp with guidance from Program Coordinator Marissa Lynn and Executive Assistant Randy Tarnowski. They are now accompanied by 10 enthusiastic first year ETAs who continue the tradition of ingenuity and initiative among our Fulbright Korea grantees. I congratulate the committee for their hard work and wish them well in their efforts to link Fulbrighters past and present.

In the past year, Fulbright programs in Korea have continued to grow and change. Last summer, we welcomed 76 ETAs as well as 20 junior researchers and nine senior scholars to Korea. American researchers continue to pursue diverse topics in a variety of fields; this year, projects range from tracking the memorializations of the Korean War in museums and films to assisting Korean engineers with the construction and launch of a small satellite. Furthermore, the 2014 Program Year marked the beginning of the Graduate Student Program, which has brought two Master’s students to Korea to pursue Korean Studies degrees at Yonsei University in the Graduate School of International Studies. We look forward to growing this program over the next few years to match the increasing interest in Korean studies in American universities and research institutions.

ETAs have continued to engage with their placements both in and out of the classroom. ETA-led programs, such as the Korean Adolescent Mentoring Program (KAMP) and Korea Bridge Initiative (KBI) have expanded to two and three placements cities, respectively, just a few years after their formation. Our North Korean defector tutoring program is also thriving. A new center in Jinju opened this past fall, bringing our total to twelve throughout Korea. These homegrown organizations speak volumes to our ETAs’ commitment and community-mindedness.

I encourage you all to use the Alumni Relations Committee’s efforts as a conduit through which to stay involved with the Fulbright community. Whether well-established in a career or just transitioning into graduate school, each of you has a wealth of knowledge to offer to current grantees and to each other. Established alumni should consider using this website to reach out to those who have just completed their grant, offering advice on how best to apply the grant year experience to post-Fulbright endeavors. Recent alumni can recount stories from their grant year, keeping the experience fresh in the minds of those who may have left Korea more than two decades ago.

As you explore this website, please remember that the connections made during your Fulbright year do not dissolve once you complete your grant. One of the most powerful parts of the Fulbright Korea experience is the strong bond that forms within and across each cohort. In the past, this has been maintained informally through e-mails or Facebook groups – disparate but energized by the shared experience of having been a Fulbright grantee. It is my hope that through the Alumni Relations Committee, we will institute an active forum for the Fulbright Korea alumni community, revealing it to be what it has always been: a vibrant and engaged family with a continued commitment to cultural ambassadorship. I look forward to reading about your accomplishments.


Jai Ok Shim
Executive Director
Korean-American Educational Commission

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!