In March 2012 faculty and staff traveled to Seoul, South Korea as members of a GVSU delegation. The delegation grant, sponsored by the Padnos International Center, works to promote partnerships and increase opportunities for exchange while fostering interdisciplinary connections. A few of the delegates were asked to describe their experiences:
Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs
This past March, I had the honor of participating in the 2012 GVSU Partnership Delegation to SeoulTech – Seoul National University of Science and Technology. The delegation was led by Rebecca Hambleton, director of Study Abroad and Partnership Development, and professor Hoon Lee, Art and Design, and the participants consisted of Marshall Battani, Lisa Surman Haight, Ingrid Johnson, Henry Matthews, Sue Korzinek, Gerry Simons and myself.
Located in the metropolitan area, SeoulTech is a state-funded university where about 13,000 students hone their academic skills in 6 colleges. President Keun Namkoong of SeoulTech greeted our delegation with a warm welcome. We exchanged conversations while sipping warm, aromatic Korean tea. Representatives from both institutions shared ideas to enhance and strengthen our newly established partnership. After the meeting, we toured the state-of-the-art campus facilities and listened to presentations on a variety of programs.
Upon returning to Grand Valley, I have met with a number of students to share my cultural experience traveling to South Korea. Our conversations have prompted three students to submit applications for the summer program at SeoulTech. I continue to talk with friends and colleagues about my meaningful experience and encourage them to consider participating in various PIC grant opportunities.
Lisa Surman Haight
Executive Secretary for the Office of the Provost
The trip to Seoul was truly a great adventure. I have never traveled abroad and the prospect of being able to experience first-hand the true meaning of being a global citizen while immersed in a culture and philosophical structure different than my own really appealed to me. I consider myself fortunate to have gained a perspective into another culture through authentic language, food, music and art.
In all I took over 3,000 photos, chronicling the Hwagyesa Temple, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul Tower and more. The GVSU delegation met with SeoulTech President Namkoong and had meetings with other individuals based on our areas of interest. Provost Cheong and his staff were very gracious and provided insights into the educational structure and answered numerous questions about faculty, curriculum development, and governance. Small group meetings with SeoulTech students allowed the delegates to answer questions and share what GVSU has to offer prospective international students.
It is in remembering these more personal one-on-one interactions that has re-vitalized my volunteer work with the Literacy Center of West Michigan as an adult literacy tutor, and enhanced my work teaching English as a Second Language. I am so appreciative for this opportunity and am especially grateful to have had such extraordinary travelling companions, all of whom I look forward to collaborating with in the future.
Gerald P. W. Simons, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
For me, the biggest draw about this delegation was to learn firsthand about a great study abroad opportunity for our students. Most of my international economics students study abroad in Europe. But I challenge GVSU students to take a bigger leap to countries that may not seem as familiar. South Korea is often overlooked when we talk about globalization. In the 1980s, we all talked about Japan; more recently our focus has shifted to China and India. But South Korea continues to grow in importance – the average income has doubled in the last 10 years and by some measures has surpassed that of the European Union. On top of that, a new free trade agreement between the US and South Korea went into effect this March. South Korea is a dynamic, vibrant country with a strong, technologically advanced economy. I try to impress upon my students that
study abroad programs like the one at SeoulTech will be a valuable experience for them.