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.

Sincerely,

Jai Ok Shim
Executive Director
Korean-American Educational Commission