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Learning about Korean culture
May 2, 2012
Each year the Korea Foundation and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) sort through more than 1,000 applications to choose 75 American students for a cultural awareness trip to South Korea. This spring St. Olaf College senior Daniel Lohmann was among the students selected.
The South Korea Scholarship Program is part of an effort to boost co-awareness between the United States and Korea. The CIEE is an American organization that designs study-abroad programs, including several offered at St. Olaf. The Korea Foundation is an independent organization, affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that aims to increase knowledge about Korea around the world and promote academic and cultural exchange programs.
Many of the events during the one-week trip were hosted by Yonsei University, a private research university located in Seoul. The university served as an intellectual and social base for the program. Yonsei professors gave the group a number of lectures on various topics, including Korean history and Korean-U.S. relations, along with a basic Korean language class. The group also took in many other aspects of South Korean culture, from visits to traditional villages and temples to modern karaoke.
Lohmann says one of the most memorable excursions of the trip was a visit to the DeMilitarized Zone (DMZ), which, despite its name, is actually one of the most heavily militarized areas of the world. The group learned more about the tense relations between the two Koreas, and even got the chance to talk with a North Korean defector who travelled on the tour bus with them.
Lohmann encourages other students to apply for opportunities like this. "This trip was very dense in terms of activity, informative, fun, and definitely worth it," he says.