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This program is organized by Duke faculty/staff in collaboration with DukeEngage.
May 21 - July 18
Assisting with the educational goals and social adjustment of young North Korean refugees and migrant children of various ethnic and national backgrounds in South Korea.
During their two months in South Korea, students will work in educational facilities for North Korean and other migrant/refugee communities, focusing on issues such as education, adjustment, and other well-being concerns of the community members. This program engages with both the challenges and opportunities arising from shifting demographics and the changing fabric of South Korean society with refugees from North Korea and economic migrants from Russia, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and elsewhere. It focuses on engaging the everyday realities of this changing social dynamic, recognizing and apprehending the complexity of the situation and building friendships and working towards mutual transformation of both engagers and the community members.
The program was established from the program directors’ community networks in South Korea over decades of living and working in the country. The program was created with the recognition that mutual benefits could be achieved through building connections among the needs of the local community and Duke students by sharing curriculum and programmatic resources and interests. Students will devote most of their time to two main sites: an alternative school for multicultural/ethnic children located in the capital city of Seoul (3-4 weeks) and a boarding school for North Korean refugee children and youths in Yŏju, a small town about 1 ½ hour away by car located southeast of Seoul (3-4 weeks). In the multicultural school in Seoul, students will spend approximately four hours in the classroom each day, contributing to English language teachings and other extracurricular activities – sports, art, computer skills, and so on – conducted in English. In the boarding school for North Korean refugees in Yŏju, students regularly meet and talk with the boarders and share break and meal times. Students will contribute to building a sustainable community by assisting at the community vegetable garden and domestic livestock pen that supply food for boarders. They will also design individual projects for enhancing interaction and communication with the boarders. Students will be serving, on average, 30-40 hours/week throughout the program.
During the first week of the program, students will participate in a week-long seminar hosted by South Korea’s Ministry of Unification at its campus in Seoul’s Suyu neighborhood. Students will learn about and discuss topics ranging from daily life in North Korea to unification policies. All sessions will be conducted in English and Duke students will be interacting with other college students from around the world. Field trips to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the border area between North Korea and South Korea, and other areas rarely accessible to the public, will also be arranged as part of the program.
Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes
CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Students will…
GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING AND CITIZENSHIP: Students will…
All participating students will work at all locations. They will be serving together at the Institute for Unification education, and at the other schools. Students will be serving on average 30-40 hours/week throughout the program.
Language: Fluency in English. Fluency or proficiency in Korean language is NOT required for all students. Students from diverse backgrounds will be considered.
Coursework: It is mandatory to take a group independent study in the spring before the program. There will be seven 90-minute sessions throughout the spring semester (Thursday evenings, 6:30-8:00pm, every other week). This course will prepare the students by familiarizing them with some basic knowledge about modern Korean history, North Korean defectors’ issues, and some of the challenges that the students will face in their work with the North Korean defectors’ children, as well as issues related to other minority communities in a globalizing South Korea. Most importantly, through this course, the students will be able to build a sense of community and friendship with one another in earnest before the program commences.
Other Skills: Ability to assist in teaching of English, music and physical education to elementary, middle, and high school students; digital camera operation, blogging, and image-uploading. There is no minimum GPA requirement, and we encourage students from a variety of majors and professional aspirations to apply.
Community Description: The program will take place in three sites, divided between the metropolitan city of Seoul and the rural outskirts. Students will spend one week on the campus of the Institute for Unification Education in Seoul, where students will eat, sleep, study, and make use of the surrounding mountains. The Institute is within the city of Seoul, but nestled in a mountain range, with a quiet ambiance. Students will also serve in a multicultural school (i.e. Chiguch’on School), also located within the metropolitan city of Seoul, where students will work for three to four weeks. Students will also serve on a campus for North Korean refugees (i.e., Mulmangch’o School), nestled in the rural community of Yŏju, one and a half hours from Seoul. Here, students will spend approximately three to four weeks engaging with North Korean settlers. These locations are all safe and convenient for travel. The climate in Seoul and the rest of South Korea is relatively mild, with four distinct seasons, similar to the climate of North Carolina. Summers tend to be warm (average 80 degrees Fahrenheit) to hot (average 95-98 degrees Fahrenheit), with high humidity. Students will experience both the comforts and inconveniences of metropolitan city living as well as a more remote rural experience. Some of the sites may have limited resources compared with what Duke students may be used to, such as smaller and shared communal spaces, group meal times, etc. that may take adjustment. Students will have the opportunity to learn about how to work with and optimize outcomes based on resource limitations.
Housing and Meals: At the Institute for Unification Education, students will live in a dormitory with two people per room. Shared rooms will be available for the rest of the program, with approximately two or three people per room. There will be electricity, internet access in common areas, bathrooms with showers, and a small kitchen. Laundry facilities will be available either on-site or nearby. During engagements in Seoul, students live in a convenient metropolitan city near a major university area and public transportation, and during engagements in the outskirts, students will live in a rural environment, near farming areas, relatively remote and quiet, but with regular transportation options (taxis and buses) for local travel and for travel into the city center.
All meals will be provided at the Institute for Unification Education, and possibly at other housing sites as well. If you are vegetarian, you might run into some difficulty with food choices, since meals are often pre-prepared for all residents on campus and purely vegetarian foods are rare. For the rest of the program, meals will be either purchased from local bakeries and restaurants or made at the apartment with groceries purchased at local markets.
If you do not eat certain types of food for cultural, religious or personal reasons, please contact the DukeEngage office, , to discuss whether or not your dietary needs can be reasonably accommodated at this program site.
Transportation: Students will use public transportation at all sites. Subway and bus passes will be provided. The commute time each day should be between 20 and 40 minutes. For weekend field trips, bus/train or airline tickets will be provided by the program and purchased as a group.
Communication: All students will be provided with a local cell phone and reasonable minute usage. Free internet will be available in most places. Students will not be required to use their own computers at work, but having one during the program would be helpful for learning and communicating.
Opportunities for Reflection: Led by either the site coordinator or the program director, reflective sessions will take place once a week. Sessions will entail sharing thoughts and concerns about the engagement experience and devising ways for resolution. Topics include challenges faced during the engagement and interpersonal dynamics, as well as working together toward improving or resolving problems that may arise. Group and personal blogging on a regular basis will be a required part of the engagement.
Other Opportunities: Rooms will be shared by two or three people. Three or four evenings of the week and most Sundays will be available for free time—to be spent studying, writing, or seeing the local areas, either on one’s own or with others. Other evenings and weekends will be used for reflection sessions, preparation for teaching and other activities for the schools, and field trips. There will be opportunities to engage with local community members as well as Duke alumni who may be in the area during the time period.
Films (available at Lilly Library):