When presented with the opportunity to apply for the initiative, I reviewed the list of identified countries and went to the CIA Factbook for country specific information (location, weather, population, demographics, etc.) and Department of State website to review current information on political, social and threat levels. Fortunately, I was able to have conversation with one belle who participated in the Greece study abroad and another belle that was in the Costa Rica program. Both shared their experiences as positive (culturally, academically and very beneficial to personal growth development).
The reasoning for the S. Korea selection beyond the data was in my heart. There has always been a curiosity about Asia.
I have lived in multi-cultural environments and have had the opportunity to travel domestic and international. From experience, I would encourage anyone to travel, our world is borderless and the experience is beyond books, news on social media and family/friends oral stories. My major is Arts Management and the guided tours to historic sites, eating in restaurants and mingling with S. Koreans was an aesthetic menagerie. The trip will be a lasting memory professionally and personally.
As I prepared myself for the journey mentally and physically, my efforts were to remain calm, focused and enjoy the study abroad experience. The background information on S. Korea was helpful however the telling truth was the DMZ site visit. Recent news media reported the U.S. and North Korea political tensions, American detainees and nuclear missile testing caused concern for me. However, instructions regarding surrendering of the passport, restrictive photo ops and strict zone guidelines definitely was unsettling.
Attending Bennett College an HBCU in the U.S. and a tour of EWHA Woman’s University in S. Korea provided the chance to compare and contrast the academic, cultural and social diversities of the two systems. Needless to say the experience to tour EWHA Woman’s University was a delightful eye-opener.
In going forward, I would say that the recent MOU between Bennett College and the American Language Academy will assist in the posture of Bennett on the international forefront. The partnership will definitely provide a bridge to reciprocate for more global opportunities. Internally and externally the college is in a position to benefit: 1) Grant funding sources could potentially expand to support the college programs. 2)Our college hosts international students and the MOU will perhaps allow the numbers of students and countries represented to increase. 3)Office of Global Studies maintains robust programs for study abroad and will definitely see more student interest and expect expansion of country selections.
Carina Hernandez – ’19 Arts Management