On July 30, 2014, three anxious but very poised high school students from the Sejong Korean Scholars Program (SKSP)—an online course on Korea sponsored by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) and the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center—took the stage to present their final papers to an audience of 25 American and Korean high school teachers and several university professors at a three-day conference on Korea at Stanford University.
The students—Alex Boylston, a recent graduate of Riverwood International Charter School in Atlanta, GA; Anne Kim, a rising senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD; and Elaine Lee, a rising senior at Los Altos High School in Los Altos, CA—were selected from a class of 26 students, based on the excellence of their academic work and final course papers.
When asked how he came to choose his topic on Koreans in Japan’s yakuza, Alex Boylston thoughtfully replied that he had thought “outside the box” because he didn’t want his instructor “to have to read 20 essays on the Korean War.” Taking a different tack, Anne Kim turned her personal interest in historical Korean dramas (“sageuk”) into the topic for her final paper, “Let’s Talk Drama: Sageuk as a Reflector and Perpetrator of Societal Change in South Korea.” Closing out the presentations, Elaine Lee stepped up to the podium and discussed the challenges South Korea faces as a global economic power, leaving no doubt she will achieve her goal of participating in the future of U.S.–South Korean relations. All three were honored with an award for excellence, following their presentations.
The SKSP accepts 20-25 exceptional high school students from throughout the United States for each course offering. The course provides students with a broad overview of Korean history and culture as well as U.S.–Korean relations and an opportunity to learn from and interact with top scholars and experts in Korean studies. The SKSP is now accepting applications for its spring 2015 term; www.sejongscholars.org.