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South Korean, U.S. students helping each other

Posted on Oct 19, 2010
South Korean and UW-Superior students are studying together as part of a special exchange program.
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Brianne Olson, Hyewon Oh, and their friend Sujin enjoy a concert they attended in South Korea.

Brianne Olson, Hyewon Oh, and their friend Sujin enjoy a concert they attended in South Korea.

By Brittany Berrens
University Relations student writer

More than 6,000 miles away from their home campus, Inhee Heo and Hyewon Oh waited at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport. It was the first day of their study abroad trip to the United States, and luckily they had a University of Wisconsin-Superior student to help them through their global journey.

Heo and Oh are studying at UW-Superior during the Fall 2010 semester as part of the exchange program between Yonsei University in Wonju, South Korea, and UW-Superior. South Korean students stay on the UW-Superior campus with American roommates.

In exchange, UW-Superior students can study abroad at the Global Village at the Wonju campus. They stay with Korean roommates who speak English and participate in mutual mentoring sessions where American students are paired with seven different Korean students. The pairs spend at least an hour a week with each other doing things like shopping, homework or practicing each others' language.

That is where senior Brianne Olson of Hermantown, Minn. met Hyewon. The two met through mutual friends and went to concerts together while Olson was studying at the Global Village last year. What started as a casual friendship led Olson to make the drive down to Minneapolis to pick up the two students, one of whom she had never met.

"I remember the hardest thing about going to Korea was getting to a bus," Olson said. "They were planning on taking a charter bus up to Superior. It was so much easier for me to go pick them up. For me, it's just a three-hour drive. It gave me peace of mind to help them out."

Friendly help

The friendly gesture made the students feel at ease. Heo never met Olson while she was studying in Korea and was taken aback by her kindness.

"I was really surprised and thankful that Brianne was going to pick us up," Heo said. "It made things a lot less scary."

This is just one case of UW-Superior students helping Korean students who are studying abroad at the university. Jisung "Gee" Choi, a business major from the university in Wonju, said he got help while at his home campus when preparing for the trip to UW-Superior from Wayne Kangas, an alumnus who participated in the Global Village program.

"Wayne helped me when I was choosing classes," said Choi, who is on campus for his second semester. "He told me a little bit about the town and UWS so I could feel more comfortable."

Six Yonsei students at UW-Superior

Six students from Yonsei University at Wonju are studying at UW-Superior during the Fall 2010 semester. Many, like Bongyeon, are hoping to improve their English speaking skills by studying at UW-Superior.

"If my English skills are high, I can find more opportunities to get a good career," Bongyeon said.

"English is good for getting a well-paid job in Korea," Choi added.

A different atmosphere

Whatever their reasons for making the overseas trip, all the Wonju students agree that the classroom atmosphere is much different at UW-Superior than in South Korea. In Korea, students don't participate in much class discussion, if any. The professor gives a lecture and students seldom ask questions. Heo says the class dynamic at UW-Superior helps her not only to speak her mind, but also learn a new language.

"I can't speak English very well, but it's fun to learn from other students when they have discussions in class," said Heo.

Choi hopes to bring back the idea of open discussion to South Korea.

"I want to teach people how to keep an original mind," Choi said.

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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