By Jason KUROSO
After a memorandum of understanding was signed between Glendale and the city of Goseong, South Korea in 2010, Goseong students were allowed to attend Glendale Community College right out of high school. In another effort to further cultural understanding, the Korean Glendale Sister City Association arranged a trip to Korea for 10 middle school students, five from Rosemont Middle School and five from Wilson Middle School.
The students, who were selected via an essay contest out of 51 participants, commemorated their one-week trip with a post-trip dinner, held at the Chevy Chase Country Club. The 10 students attended the dinner in Tae Kwon Do uniforms bearing the word “Korea” on their backs, while their parents and officials with the city and school district also attended the dinner.
After dinner, the students read essays detailing their favorite parts of the trip, the big cultural differences they noted between America and Korea and how they bonded with the other students.
Korea Glendale Sister City Assn. President Alex Woo, who helped chaperone the trip, noted the bond the students developed over the course of the trip.
“It’s funny because it took us traveling thousands of miles away to get these kids, who live probably six or seven miles away from each other, to meet and now look at them. They’re all great friends,” said Woo. “They’ve shown that they are great ambassadors for GUSD, Glendale and our entire organization and we’re very proud of them.”
Many of the students expressed how the trip helped them to be more open to new things, such as Korean food and other traditional Korean customs as they traveled the country and lived with Korean host families. Some of the new things they learned were showcased in a slideshow of pictures from the trip and a live Tae Kwon Do exhibition. Woo held wooden boards while the students broke them with ease.
The city officials and parents in attendance praised the students for their openness to new cultures. City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian noted that the students have “a responsibility to learn other cultures.”
Jim LeVoir, father of Rosemont student Amy LeVoir, expressed approval over “the planning of the trip and how it challenged the kids to actively engage with the culture they’re visiting.”
There are hopes to conduct further trips of this kind in the future and LeVoir said the trip “really set the bar and the Korean families who hosted our kids really set the bar for us.”
A group of around 20 Korean students will be in the U.S. in October, and the KGSCA is looking for any volunteers to host the students during their week stay.
For more information on the KGSCA and potentially housing Korean cultural exchange students, email Alex Woo at firstname.lastname@example.org.