When I attended Korean school as a child, the class hours were long and I had to complete an inordinate amount of homework. However, through these classes, I gained an outlook on Korean culture, history, and traditions that were important in connecting with my heritage.
As I grew older and became increasingly worried about not being able to explore my ethnic Korean roots and heritage further, I came across the Sejong Korea Scholars Program (SKSP), an online course hosted by SPICE that gave me a unique opportunity to delve into my growing curiosity.
Little did I know how enriching this online program would turn out to be. Gaining personal interactions with guest speakers and professors, getting a chance to further my knowledge in a range of international topics, and thinking on a deeper level with every discussion post I wrote… it was a dream come true.
The four and a half months of SKSP were genuinely an exciting time for me in gaining knowledge about Korea. I found that studying about Korean history and U.S.–Korea relations contributed to a greater appreciation of my ethnic roots.
Most importantly, SKSP provided me access to an incredible set of people, including fellow students from across the country who were participating in the program and the professors who led our weekly lectures. These two aspects of the program, in particular, gave me a chance to reach out and forge connections with people. Above all, I’m grateful that I was able to establish a relationship with Dr. HyoJung Jang, the instructor of SKSP, who greatly expanded my knowledge of Korean societal issues, education, conflicts, and international relations.
As SKSP came to an end, I discovered a missing part of my identity by delving into a topic that I found myself wanting to explore more: the way in which the contrasting cultures of the U.S. and South Korea have differentially shaped their education systems. As someone who had experienced both American and Korean-style education, this topic was particularly meaningful to me. I came to be more aware of how education systems work in other countries, and this experience nourished my interest in diversifying education for all. For my final research paper, I decided to analyze how the education systems of both Korea and the U.S. could be improved.
Through this experience, I came to the conclusion that I would like to pursue a career in education. Not only was I ecstatic at this realization, I was extremely thankful to Professor Nancy Abelmann, whose lecture provided me with knowledge about the South Korean education system. Dr. Yoon Choi’s lecture on Hallyu (“the Korean Wave”) also provided me the inspiration to grow my interest in media, making me want to pursue the field of journalism even more than I already did.
SKSP was a truly unforgettable experience that allowed me to grow as a person, a student, and a speaker. As I came to reflect on my experience with SKSP, I have realized how it truly diversified my knowledge in many critical areas, allowed me to develop my love for improving education systems, and motivated me to become a more influential person in the media. In all these ways, SKSP was a genuinely influential force in my life, and I anticipate that it will continue to shape my identity as a Korean American and influence my academic interests and career direction in ways that I am unaware of now.