Tag Archives: south korea

Fulbright: A Two Year Photographic Journey

May 26th, 2017

During my two years in the Fulbright Program, I have taken thousands of photographs. I seem to have just as many stories about my students, the community I live in, and the nation I call home. In writing this, I wanted to give a diverse glimpse into the life of a Fulbrighter in South Korea and the development of my relationship with my students over the past two years. Living abroad is full of many complicated feelings: joy, depression, homesickness, excitement – there is no short story that can encapsulate the experience, but I hope through this photographic essay I can share life in the Land of the Morning Calm.

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First, Let Me Take A Selfie, 2015
After three months, my first selfie with my students.
Until this moment, we had not reached the friendship point of pictures. I entered my school with a strong dedication to teach the English language as a professional. And part of this came with me creating distance between the students and I, not fully comprehending the culture of touch (hand holding is appropriate with teachers) or engaging with students outside of the classroom. In short, I had a lot to learn about being a good teacher. After a month, I began to change my approach and opened myself up to the students, which in turn lead to this moment on October 2, 2015 when I asked a few girls for a picture.

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An Artist At Work, Work Being My Classroom, 2015
I caught a student drawing in class. Usually, I would take away the drawings and talk with the student after about paying attention. When I walked up to this particular student she was so engrossed in her work she didn’t see me. Instead of taking the papers I stood and watched. After all, who am I to disturb an artist in the midst of a masterpiece?

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Special Snowflakes, 2016
The project was supposed to be simple. We had ended class early and I wanted to decorate the classroom with snowflakes. Some of my students listened to the directions. Others decided they knew how to make a snowflake.
Most of these students were wrong:

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The Battle of Sungsim, 2016
The first snowfall of the year brought with it the usual festivities. My students have a tradition of using dustpans as shovels and tossing the snow at each other. Just a word of advice to anyone reading this – if a group of teenagers have dustpans and you have a lone snowball, always remember you are older and will be the automatic enemy if you engage them in battle.

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Hanji, 2016
Hanji is Korean paper and has a long history on the peninsula. It can be used to make art and clothing. During my first year in Korea, I began taking lessons from a woman who has been making hanji art for 20 years! My teacher is an amazing woman who speaks 5 languages and is one of the happiest people I have met. Pictured is one of my projects, but don’t be fooled! My teacher saved it multiple times from my butterfingers!

 

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Closet, 2017
This past week we did a lesson on secrets, many of which broke my heart. In Korea, same-sex marriage is not legal, although being with someone of the same gender is not criminalized (military code exempt). You can be fired for your sexuality and support groups for LGBT rights are still growing. It has been painful watching students who have come out to me struggle with their identity, unable to share it with their peers. I have no clear answers – many expats simply say “its another culture” and brush aside the issue. But working with students who are in the closet changes the entire experience. And the worst part is not having answers or a fix for the situation.

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Do You Hear The People Sing?, 2017
Earlier this year President Guen-Hye Park was ousted after a money scandal. Millions filled the streets of Seoul demanding she be impeached. When the court ruling came down impeaching Park, the country erupted into celebration. On May 9, 2017, Jae-In Moon was elected president. Watching the whole process was intense. In my city there were nightly protests and my students covered their classrooms in signs demanding Park resign. The whole nation was against her and there was no way to stop the people. As one of my students said after the election, “Korea is a democracy, today shows our power.”

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Good-byes, 2017
I had to rent a hanbok before I left, pictured here in front of my school. It has been an amazing journey and one I will not forget. Leaving Korea—there are no words to describe how I feel and perhaps that is the best. My students have transformed my life for the better. I am more compassionate, I am more patient, I laugh everyday, and I have found my calling in education. I just don’t know how I will live without them… or the kimchi.
안녕히 계세요.

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Nikki R. Brueggeman

Biography
Nikki Brueggeman is a graduate of the University of Washington s where she earned a master’s degree in 2015. She is originally from the town of Walla Walla, Washington where she was raised around sweet onions and wine barrels. Nikki currently teaches at Jeonju Sungsim Girls High School where she works with the most beautiful, vivacious, and hilarious girls on the Korean peninsula.

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15 Facts on South Korean Student Flows

June 19th, 2014

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When I first traveled to South Korea in 2001 and visited with officials at the Ministry of Education and at a number of the universities, there were 45,685 South Korean students studying in the U.S. The numbers grew to 75,065 in 2008/09 but began to show a dip to 72,153 in 2009/10.

In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of the flow of students from South Korea and factors that may have an impact on the rise or decline of the numbers of students seeking higher education in the U.S.

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1. Korea is the third largest source of international students to the U.S. after China and India.

2. More than 70,000 South Koreans studied on U.S. campuses in 2012–2013.

3. Korean parents place their children in U.S.-based private and public schools to have a better chance of being admitted to a U.S. college. (For example, at the University of Illinois, more than 69% of the Korean students admitted came directly from U.S. based high schools. Source: NAFSA International Education Magazine, April 2014)

4. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, Koreans are being quickly replaced by Chinese secondary students as the largest group of international students at independent schools. According to a report from the Association of Boarding Schools, Korean enrollments in member schools plunged 31 percent between 2010–2011 and 2012–2013 (from 3,800 to 2,600).

5. U.S. institutions continue to remain the favorite destination for study by South Korean students but the numbers are dropping as students are also looking at Canada as an alternative.

6. In 2012, 30.7 percent of Koreans studied in the United States, compared with 26.3 percent in China, 8.6 percent in Canada, 8.4 percent in Japan, and 7.2 percent in Australia, according to the Fulbright Commission in Seoul. Australia is aggressively marketing in South Korea to attract students to its institutions.

7. The rising cost of higher education in the U.S. and even Canada, Australia, Japan, is forcing South Korean students to look elsewhere, like Philippines and Malta, where education is affordable and English is the language of instruction. However, the number of students heading to these countries is very low. (According to Ministry of Education data from Fulbright Commission the share of South Koreans studying in the Philippines in 2010 and 2011 went from 1.1 to 1.2 percent, or to 3,238 students.)

8. The three factors that impact decisions made by South Koreans on studying abroad include: cost, value, and prestige. Most consider the cost of living in the UK as too high and consider U.S. universities as more prestigious than others

9. Prospective job applicants find that upon return to South Korea, employers prefer selecting a graduate from a U.S. institution.

10. In light of the weak job market for college graduates, a more popular option for Koreans is vocational schools that will be going through curriculum changes to include more hands-on training.

11. China is proving to be the Korean students’ second favored study abroad destination after the U.S. (According to the Wall Street Journal statistics: the number of Korean students flocking across the Yellow Sea to China grew more than three-fold between 2001 and 2012, from 16,000 to almost 63,000.)

12. More and more Korean companies are looking to hire college graduates who speak both fluent English and Chinese, since China is a key trading partner of South Korea.

13. On the other hand, many South Korean college graduates returning home are finding that the employers prefer hiring local college graduates as they see them to be less expensive and less inclined to change jobs.

14. Despite a weak economy and skyrocketing household debt, in 2012, Korean families spent $20 billion on private education (half of government education spending), or 2 percent of Korea’s GDP which makes education the nation’s largest spending area before defense expenditures.

15. The flow of Korean students to U.S. and abroad is contingent on whether Korean universities commit to reforms that will help their ranking on the list of top schools in the world. If they do not improve their ranking on the global level, South Korean students will continue to seek higher education opportunities in the U.S. and abroad.

Alan

Alan A. Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO, ACEI, Inc.
www.acei1.com

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