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Category: Interviews / Reports

Dae Hyun Park: Student Exchange Program (Spain)

Dae Hyun Park: Student Exchange Program (Spain)

Name: Dae Hyun Park
Exchange University: Spain/Universitat Politècnica de València
Program Duration: 1 semester (6 months)

What made you want to study as an exchange student?
I spent last semester as an exchange student because I wanted to learn the language and culture of Spain. Specifically, I wanted to experience Spain’s relaxed attitude. My friend from my Judo team recommended Valencia, Spain due to its cheap prices, natural surroundings and culture. Moreover, I wanted to travel all across Europe during my stay.

What were the pros and cons of being an exchange student?
To start with the pros, first, being an exchange student gives less academic pressure due to its pass/fail grade system. This allowed me to have more time engaging with European people. I was able to experience their cultures and simply enjoy life. It felt like a vacation.

Second, I was able to learn the country’s language. As I interacted with local students, my Spanish improved significantly.

Third, I had more time and opportunities to travel. Traveling taught me many lessons in life while it introduced me to many great friends from all across the globe.

Fourth, my cooking skills have improved. I lived in a shared flat so I had to cook for myself. Being able to cook good food is a necessity.

For the con side, however, one can become lonely as everything is foreign and new.  This sometimes discourages exchange students from being proactive.

Moreover, many universities do not offer a high number of major courses in English which can hinder one’s academic progress especially in regards to completing credit requirements. Hence, I was not able to take many courses in Spain.

Would you recommend it to other students? Why?
Yes, I would recommend the exchange student program. Many students, including myself, enjoy the best time of their lives. They make many good friends and memories. Additionally, it is beneficial in regards to education. Languages, cultures and vital life lessons are learned throughout the stay. I hope everyone gets the chance to spend at least one semester as an exchange student.

Boram Lee: Participating in the United Nations’ CSW 61

Boram Lee: Participating in the United Nations’ CSW 61

Name: Joyce Boram Lee
Internship / volunteer institution: UN Commission on the Status of Women 61
Duration: March 10-March 20

Q: Why and how did you apply for this activity?

I’m a volunteer at an NGO called the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). The YWCA of Korea participates in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) each year, and they were recruiting young volunteers to represent them at the event. The first process of application was with documents of personal information and self-introduction. Then there was a phone interview conducted in English where they asked me about my interests in women’s rights and the United Nations.

Q: How did you prepare for this activity?

I did a lot of reading. Although I had always been interested in gender equality, there was still a lot of reading to catch up on, mainly previous UN documents or publications on gender equality by the Korean government. It was important for me to be able to understand and share as much information as possible when I got to the event, and the best way to ensure that was through reading and studying.

Q: What specific activities did you participate in?

1. CSW 61 Youth Forum:
For the first two days, I participated in the CSW Youth Forum. This is a forum where young people under 30 years old from all over the world come together to discuss gender equality. Numerous panelists from a variety of backgrounds share their experiences and engage in discussions with other participants. It was also here where we heard a keynote speech from the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed. After the plenaries, smaller groups of people gathered for thematic sessions. Each group discussed different themes, such as Refugees and Migration or Violence against women and girls. I went into the “Young women and men challenging inequality in times of climate change” session. With the respective conclusions of each session, the drafting committee wrote a Youth Declaration to submit to the general assembly at the CSW.

2. NGO and Government Parallel and Side Events:
During the CSW, NGOs and governments open parallel and side events to advocate their cause or summarize past achievements in gender equality. Being a member of the YWCA, I attended events hosted by the YWCA of Japan and Canada. I also attended meetings hosted by other NGOs and governments such as those of Finland and Norway. These events covered a variety of topics, from “including men and boys in the gender equality movement” to “young women entrepreneurs”. I went to 3 or 4 of these meetings each day.

3. Egumeni Safe Space and Navi campaign:
The World YWCA opened a safe space close by the UN headquarters. (A safe space is a physical space, often a large room, where people can intervene in any kind of discussion with guaranteed confidentiality: it is a “judgement-free” zone.) The safe space provides people the opportunity to talk about gender-related issues more intimately with one another. There were also special guests, such as Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Canadian minister of international development, and Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary General of the UN. They answered the many questions of the YWCA youth and led discussions about their experiences and professions.

At the safe space, the representatives of the YWCA of Korea, including myself, did a presentation to promote our campaign, “Ignorance is Violence”. We explained the tragic situation of the sex slaves during the Japanese colonial era and further asked for the international community’s support in combating violence against women and girls in armed conflict. We had the privilege to present our cause in front of delegations from all over the world, including ministers of Finland and Australia.

4. Meeting the Senior Advisor on Policy, Kang Kyung-wha:
The YWCA of Korea had the opportunity to meet Kang Kyung-wha, the senior advisor on policy at the UN. We asked her a number of questions regarding her past experience in Korean and international politics, her personal opinion on what makes a good leader, and how a person of her position deals with the clashes between reality and the ideal of “making the world into a better place”.

Q: What did you learn from this experience?

As a child and teenager I used to dream about working in the United Nations. But after entering university, the more I researched, I came to see it just as a formal gathering of member states–all talk and no action. The lack of binding law seemed like a major flaw, and the value of all of the “fancy” rhetoric seemed questionable.

Yet after CSW I realize the significance of providing people a platform. The United Nations and CSW in specific, provides people with a platform in which they can share experiences and information. These aspects to some may still come across as a waste of resources or even as unnecessary. But after having first-hand experience, I can say that at least in my eyes, people truly and sincerely utilize the provided platform to advocate their causes. The passion and drive these people have is amazing, and so I came to place great value in the UN in that it gives these people a place to speak. It is one of the few official places where people can be idealistic for once. Not to mention the fact that people from literally all over the world convening to empower women in and of itself sends a powerful message to organizations and governments everywhere.

 

Jae Ah Shin: Volunteering with SK SUNNY

Jae Ah Shin: Volunteering with SK SUNNY

Name: Jae Ah Shin
Volunteer institution: SK SUNNY
Duration: February 2017 – February 2018

Q: Why and how did you apply for this volunteer activity?
I applied for SK SUNNY Social Enterprise Supporting Team with an expectation of gaining a valuable experience. My future goal is to become a Social Enterprise CEO. I hope to establish a social enterprise that can tackle a number of social issues simultaneously. The moment I applied to SK SUNNY program, I was confident that this volunteer activity would help me overcome my weakness while strengthening my abilities and would function as a stepping stone that leads me a step closer to my dream.

Q: What activities did you participate in?
I participated in the SK SUNNY Social Enterprise Supporting Team Leader Group, which was a one-year program. Our main goal was to support social enterprises’ by utilizing diverse marketing strategies and further expanding university students’ talents. This semester, I was assigned to support a social venture, “Ease and More”. “Ease and More” is a social venture that encourages sanitary, healthy and content female lifestyles. Such actions are carried out by monthly funding the underprivileged teenage girls with sanitary napkins. As a part of the leader group member, I have the responsibility to select and manage supporters—team members. Managing supporters involves planning a workshop, managing a community website, and keeping schedules.

Q: What did you learn from this experience?
Through the SK SUNNY Program, I learned how to carry out the marketing strategies that I learned in the DIS courses. Moreover, as the SK SUNNY Leader Group consists of university students from all around Korea, I made a lot of friends in other regions as well. Interacting with friends in other regions of the country certainly enabled me to gain a broader perspective. SK SUNNY is truly a window of opportunity.

Q: How did you prepare for the volunteer activity?
There are two programs within SK SUNNY: the Social Enterprise (SE) Supporting Team and the Volunteering Team. As I applied for SE Supporting Team, I prepared myself by joining Hanyang Social Enterprise Network and researching about social enterprises. Understanding the concept of the social enterprise and having a passion to change the world in to a better place are vital.

HaNeul Hong: Volunteering with Happymove

HaNeul Hong: Volunteering with Happymove

Name: HaNeul Hong (홍하늘)
Volunteer institution: Hyundai Motor Company
Duration: 12 days

Q: What was this activity about?
Among the various CSR activities of Hyundai Motor Company, Happymove is a program that sends about 1,000 university students each year to different countries around the world. Through this program, the company hopes to produce global leaders with humanitarian concerns, leaders who know how to cooperate with others and have the ability to take creative approaches and generate sustainable results. Among the countries I could apply to, I chose to go to Laos, to Champa Elementary School in Vientiane.

Q: What activities did you participate in?
The experience was divided into three sections: Construction work, educational sessions, and cultural exchanges. For the construction work, my team built walls around the school, made stone benches, wooden desks and chairs, varnished over those wooden desks and chairs, and also painted walls. During the educational session, we devoted one day from the schedule to communicate with the first graders by teaching Korean traditional street games and teaching them about the countries around the world. Lastly, for the cultural exchange, our team presented a combination of traditional and K-Pop and Taekwondo moves in front of 300 people of the Champa including several high ranking governors in Laos. Originally, we had another performance planned but about a week before the performance, we found several problems. Thus, we had to come up with something from scratch within five days! Everyone in the team panicked, thinking that we had to start from zero. After hours of brainstorming, we decided to present Taekwondo moves even if only five people in the team had a belt. It was extremely challenging to learn the Taekwondo moves without having any basics in my body. Fortunately, we were able to perform well and the people in the Champa community seemed to enjoy the Korean martial art.

Q: Why did you apply for this volunteering activity?
I applied for this activity because I am interested in joining an NGO that is dedicated to improving the lives of children. Hence, when I first heard about this opportunity from a friend, I thought that it would help me gain a meaningful experience for my future career. In addition, having lived in the Philippines for about ten years, I was comfortable with the South East Asian environment. That is why I specifically chose Laos over countries such as China and India. Another reason that made me apply for this activity was the fact that Hyundai Motor Company covered all the expenses for us to go abroad and work. Usually, overseas volunteering activities require personal expenses to some extent. However, being a college student, it was always a burden for me. Yet, Happymove was a volunteering activity that supported their workers fully which fulfilled everything I desired in an overseas volunteering program.

Q: What did you learn from this experience?
Through this experience, I was able to change my mindset about volunteering. Whenever I volunteered for something, especially if it was serving a community that was in need, I subconsciously thought that I was superior to the them. However, the outcomes of this activity benefited me more than it benefited the Champa Elementary school. A couple of years ago, I watched the movie, “Big Hero 6” and there is a scene in which the two main characters (Baymax and Hiro) do a fist bump. I brought that to Laos and taught it to the children in the Champa Elementary school. Surprisingly, a lot of the kids remembered it and later on, and they approached me just to do the fist bump and run away. I thought I went to Laos to give or share something that I possessed. Nevertheless, I was the one who received a greater change and meaning in life through this experience.

Q: How did you prepare for the internship/volunteering activity?
For this volunteering activity, I first had to check when the registration period was. When I first heard of this activity from a senior, I went to the website right away but I missed the deadline by a week. So I marked the calendar a year ahead so that I would not miss this opportunity again. After registering online, I had the option to present official documents regarding my linguistic ability. I also had the option to submit documents with volunteering experiences. Then I had to write a personal statement using three hashtags. After that was complete, I waited to find out if I made it to the interview. For the interview I went to the headquarter of Hyundai Motors Company located near Anguk station.

Wangyu Koh: Internship with Merril Lynch

Wangyu Koh: Internship with Merril Lynch

Wan-Kyu

Name: Wangyu Koh (DIS, 2008)

Place of internship: Washington D.C. / Merrill Lynch

Duration: 4 Months (February-May 2010)

Q: Why did you apply for the internship?

W: I applied to the internship because of my curiosity with the field of finance. I also wanted to experience Washington D.C., which is not only the capital city of the United States, but also a world hub where powerful governmental, political and economic institutions coalesce. Additionally, I wanted to attend the development forums at the IMF/IBRD HQ to identify world economic trends and gain insights on the findings of leading economists.

Q: What did you mainly do in the internship?

W: Merrill Lynch, the wealth management division of Bank of America, is the world’s largest brokerage managing $2.2 trillion in client assets. I worked at Merrill Lynch, Washington D.C., Global Wealth Management Division, in a team comprised of a senior financial advisor and a client associate.

It was crucial that I familiarize myself with the Bloomberg workstation, which is a powerful information source that enables users to monitor and analyze real-time financial market data. The Bloomberg online training courses were extremely useful in helping me fulfill my daily tasks and at the same time allowed me to acquire the Bloomberg Essentials Certificate (Fixed Income/Equity/Foreign Exchange/Commodity).

I researched, analyzed and monitored the best performing stocks and mutual funds of target sectors. This involved using the Bloomberg workstation to gather and compile financial data such as stock performance, benchmark performance, asset allocation and holdings. For qualitative analysis, segments of analyst reports were also summarized, compiled and submitted to the client associate.

I analyzed the financial products of competitors and reported new investment opportunities to the group’s financial advisor. This required monitoring a set of financial products and attending meetings that took place in and out of the office. Other duties included reviewing annual statements of clients to help the financial planner set and meet his targets as well as managing client account information.

Q: What did you learn most from the experience?

W: There are around two hundred people working in Merrill Lynch, Washington D.C. They are finance experts not just from the US, but also from all over the world.

It was a great opportunity to experience the American corporate culture, which is nothing like that of Korean companies. In American organizations, being direct, even to the President or the CFO, is a virtue. If one wants to be heard, one is expected to be confident about oneself and one’s capabilities. Meetings are kept as short as possible and are not considered a success unless they result in a tangible action or decision.

I learned that being ‘professional’ is not purely about one’s expertise in the field. Rather, it is about one’s commitment in getting the assigned work done no matter what. In other words, it is important to finish all the work on the day it was received, even if it involves working late into the night. Being proactive in constantly finding work for myself was also a rewarding experience.

Q: How did you prepare for the internship?

W: Getting advice from senior students in the field of finance helped me the most. I talked to several seniors working in finance regarding what their job entailed and how to prepare for a career in the sector. Actively taking economics and business courses at school helped me acquire the basic knowledge required for the job.

Internship programs like TWC and WEST are the two main routes for students who want to work in the US. Identifying which program is the most suitable for oneself is crucial. Finding out the procedures of the program in advance and making a strategy to meet the requirements will significantly increase one’s chances of getting a placement.

Minsun Hong: US Congress – Korean National Assembly Exchange Program

Minsun Hong: US Congress – Korean National Assembly Exchange Program

Min-Sun

Name: Minsun Hong (DIS, 2010)

Internship: US Congress – Korean National Assembly Exchange Student Program

Duration: 7/8/2013 – 8/9/2013

Q: Why did you apply for this internship?

I was nominated by Assemblyman Ik-pyo Hong (Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee) in the exchange program, and after an English interview and Korean interview, I was chosen as one of the final ten students to represent Korea in the United States’ visit.

Q: How did you prepare for the internship/ international activity?

Before leaving to America ten Korean students from respected universities gathered in the National Assembly Building located in Yeouido and received lectures on the U.S. political system. I also prepared a 20-minute presentation on the function of the National Assembly and the three branches of government.

Q: What did you mainly do in this internship/ international activity?

The main focus of the program was to improve understanding of two countries’ political, economic and cultural differences. The program ran in three states; Washington D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles. During my stay in D.C. there was a short internship program in a Congressional office. With my American counter-part I spent some time in Senator Jeff Flake’s office. It was an amazing opportunity to learn how the senator’s office operates on a daily basis. I talked with a few of the staff members and also sat in the hearing of the closing down of Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Later on, there were a lot of special meetings with influential people such as Victor Cha, former Director of Asian Affairs in the White House’s National Security Council and James W. Fatheree, senior director for Japan and Korea at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Also during my stay in D.C. there was a 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice where I was able to show gratitude to the U.S. Veterans and also hear president Obama’s speech honoring the special year. In Illinois I visited the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to hear how it operates and also visited the Naval Station Great Lakes, learning more about the military. Finally in L.A. the mayor of Irvine shared his inspirational stories of succeeding in America as a first generation immigrant.

Q: What did you learn most from the experience?

After my stay in the U.S. the biggest lesson I received was about the vibrant nature of American politics, economics, and culture. This trip was the first time I visited the states and it made me understand why America was renowned as a superpower. I am now more determined to study in America than ever before.

Kim Min-Hyuk: Volunteering with Happymove

Kim Min-Hyuk: Volunteering with Happymove

Name: Minhyuk Kim (DIS, 2008).

Internship / volunteer institution: Hyundai Motor Group “Happymove” 7th Brazil Volunteer Team.

Duration: Two weeks (July-August, 2013).

Q: Why did you apply for this volunteer activity?

It was a chance to make use of my linguistic abilities and overseas experience to participate in volunteer work abroad. I had already done various types of volunteer activity within Korea and found that it is a very meaningful experience not only for the recipients’ but also for me. The “Happymove” program involves various types of volunteer activity, from planting trees to building homes and teaching locals. I felt that I could contribute to these activities and share my personal knowledge and experience as well as visit a country that I was interested in.

Q: What activities did you engage in?

“Happymove” Brazil is about building homes and culture exchange. The first week involves working with Habitat for Humanity Brazil local volunteers to actually build homes from scratch, paint them and also decorate them. Some homes need to be brought down; some just need a final touch. However painting the homes and building brick walls was the most work for our team. The second week is about going to nurseries or schools for low income families. It is to spend time with them and share Korean culture as well as learn the local culture. Our team took Korean hand fans and various drawing tools to share time with the young students and to help them make their own fans. While some members are spending time with the students, others use this time to clean the building and fix anything the school needs.

Q: What did you learn most from the experience?

Sharing is caring. There are so many people out in the world who are in dire need. Whether it is financial aid or simply spending time to talk and give a hand, it means so much for the people who receive it. Poverty is a serious issue. Watching it from TV or reading it from papers is completely different than witnessing it. I was quite a shock to see the kind of living conditions in the suburban Brazil and I felt that I should continue to engage in volunteer services.During the past year, I have participated in volunteer service on a bi-weekly basis to help out in nurseries, hospitals and immigrant facilities. It is amazing how spending 4 hours can mean the world for someone else. The people that I have worked for come from multicultural backgrounds, most of which are orphans. Simply having someone come by every month gives them the strength to live on because they believe that there are people who care about them. I have met various people who are full-time workers who still find the time to spend their weekends to help others. I was very touched by this and I hope to do the same.

Q: How did you prepare for the volunteer activity?

“Happymove” is among many foreign volunteer services which are fully funded by the organization. Others include SK “Sunny”, Posco “Beyond”, Gmarket “Volunteer Group” and so on. These organizations usually recruit volunteers during summer and winter vacations. Applicants must prepare a written registration on topics such as “Personal background,” “Reasons for applying,” and “Ways to contribute?” Then there is an interview which is to see how dedicated you are and how truthful you are to what you have written. There are many other volunteer activities that take place in Korea. I would recommend that you experience these before you try an overseas volunteer service because there are a lot of people in dire need in Korea. Without having such experience, if you simply apply for an overseas volunteer work, the chances of being selected are very low. If you look on www.1365.go.kr or www.vms.or.kr there are so many opportunities to participate in volunteer work.