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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.