It’s spring semester, and a group of U.S. servicemembers are enrolled in a college leadership class about international negotiations, free-trade agreements and business enterprises.
There’s just one difference between this class and the hundreds of others offered to servicemembers each year: This group meets weekly at Seoul National University.
The class, “Step into the Future with Confidence,” is designed to help South Korean undergraduate and graduate students perfect their spoken English, gain self-assurance and develop into leaders, said professor Sunny Kim, their teacher.
Last fall, she got the idea to invite Americans to participate to encourage her students to speak more English and to expose U.S. servicemembers to South Korean culture and economics.
“I want them to get to know each other better,” she said.
To do that, she’s created eight teams, each with members from both countries.
Together they represent different Asian countries and debate import taxes, sharing goods and other aspects of free-trade agreements.
The assignment involves meeting outside of class to plot strategy, as well as taking field trips to South Korean businesses.
According to Park Jin-woo, it’s working.
Park, 24, of Seoul, is a senior studying nuclear engineering. He’s backpacked across parts of Asia and Europe, served as a South Korean marine, and wants to work abroad.
But he’d never been inside Yongsan Garrison until this spring, when his class team had a meeting at Army Sgt. Maj. Patrick O’Connor’s on-base house.
“It’s a very unique experience,” Park said. “If this class is open next semester, I will recommend it to all my friends,” he said.
Air Force Master Sgt. Jay Bryant agreed. “It’s one of the best ways to get the servicemembers off base,” he said during a break in last week’s class.
The semester is about half over, and the Americans don’t get any college credit for it, Kim said.
But it’s something they can put on their resume, and it’s also a program she hopes to offer again.
“I will continue this if they want to,” Kim said.
May 10, 2006
Professor Sunny Kim : 82-2-880-9343, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNU NOW / Newsroom