By Daniel Park
There are plenty of international trips this year, ranging from Germany and Denmark, to France, and to Nepal. But of all the trips, Korea was the one that stuck out the most for me.
Throughout my attending of OES, my exposure to international winterim trips was very minimal. During gathering one would hear an announcement urging students to fill out the forms, or alerting about a lunch meeting. Last year during my sophomore year, the at the time junior, Sarah K. (2017) approached me to talk about her plans for the Korea Winterim in the 2016-2017 school year.
After spending the summer thinking a little about the Korea Winterim, I decided to contact Sarah again, asking more about the specifics. Although Sarah has not disclosed the specifics and details of the trip, she has mentioned the mission and small details of the trip. “The basic premise of the trip is to learn about the relationship between North and South Korea. As we are the future generation to lead the world, the importance of learning about the current problems in the Korean peninsula is greater than ever.” She underscores the importance of recognition of the Korean dilemma. The student group will learn about “the challenges two countries face before and after unification and the culture of before and after the development of one nation.”
The 2017 OES International Winterim Course list describes the Korea winterim as
We’ll spend 10 days based in Seoul, South Korea. Our experience will start with acclimating to the culture and geography of Seoul before working with a local organization to learn about the historic split and the hope for reunification. The rest of our trip will focus on bringing to life our new understandings of South Korea by visiting major cultural sites (including the DMZ and the Unification Tower), exploring pre-war traditional customs, and connecting with local Korean students.
When asked about the benefits of this international trip, Sarah K. highlights the potential learning experience of a different culture. She also adds that the students are able to view the problems they might face in the future, (regarding the politics of the Asian country) and perhaps think about the problem ahead of time.
Of course entertainment in Korea is also involved in the trip. Although, she did not explain explicitly about the entertaining activities to not spoil the fun, there is more than enough room for fun for the 10 day trip.
I asked one of the students in the Korea Winterim lunch meeting. When asked the prime reason of interest in the Korea winterim, Evan C. replied, “I did not have much experience of China. And as an Asian American, I feel that the Korea winterim will help me explore my culture as an Asian American. In addition, it will help me learn about what it is like to be multicultural.”
Regardless of whether one is interested in the Korea winterim, it is possible to see the importance of this trip. The two Koreas are “the only divided nations in the world.” The trip can most definitely show the students a modern Korea, while taking a glance at that historical backgrounds of the two nations.