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Teaching and working with refugee and migrant youth – 2022

Dates May 24 - July 19, 2022
Program Focus

Assisting with educational goals and social adjustment of young North Korean refugees and migrant children of various ethnic and national backgrounds in South Korea.

Program Leaders
Program Themes
  • Children
  • Education
  • Migration


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 Duke students and 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 between the local community and Duke students by sharing curriculum and programmatic resources and interests.


Community Partnerships

Students will devote most of their time to serving as a group in two main sites, both located in the capital city of Seoul:

  • Jiguchon School: a school for immigrant children (3-4 weeks)
    Activities: work with elementary and middle school students; support classes in English; create and engage in extracurricular activities. Dates: May 30-June 24 (subject to change).
    In Jiguchon School, students will spend approximately three to four hours for class preparation and four contact hours in the classroom each day, contributing to English language teaching and other extracurricular activities – sports, art, computer skills, and so on – conducted in English.
  • Yeomyung School (to be confirmed): a school for North Korean refugee youths and adults (3-4 weeks)
    Activities: work with students of various ages; help with English; create and engage in extracurricular activities. Dates: June 27-July 15 (subject to change).
    In Yeomyung School, students regularly meet and talk with refugee students and assist with their English language learning for reading and writing. They will also design individual projects for enhancing interaction and communication with the refugee students, whose ages, educational experiences, and needs vary widely.


Program Requirements

Language: While fluency or proficiency in a second language is NOT required for all students, we highly encourage students with competence in Korean and/or Chinese to apply. Students from diverse backgrounds and linguistic competence will be considered.

Pre-departure meetings: All students selected as finalists are required to attend biweekly meetings in person during the spring semester and a one-day workshop on Zoom prior to departure.

Coursework: Upon return from the summer of engagement, students are encouraged to take a related course during the fall semester, and statement of such intent is expected in the application.

Other skills: Ability to assist in teaching of English, performance, music, arts, and physical education to elementary, middle, and high school students; basic camera operation, blogging, and photo editing/layout.

Personal qualities: Enthusiasm, empathy, and open-mindedness toward understanding new communities, cultural and social inequalities and differences.



Housing meals, and transportation: Students will live in a guest house near a major university area or close to the service sites. Shared rooms will be available, with approximately two or three people per room. There will be electricity, internet access in common areas, bathrooms with showers, and a small kitchen. Students will commute to the service sites by public transportation, i.e. Seoul Metro. Subway trains run very frequently and a one-way trip (with transfer) takes approximately an hour.

Local safety, security, and cultural norms: We encourage students who have questions or concerns about health or safety in international programs to check Duke’s International SOS (ISOS) portal for relevant information. If you have special needs related to health, culture, disability, or religious practices, please contact the program director(s) or the DukeEngage office to discuss whether your needs can be accommodated in this program.

For guidance on how race, religion, sexual/gender identity, ability, or other aspects of identity might impact your travels, we suggest exploring the Diversity, Identity and Global Travel section of the DukeEngage website.


Academic Connections

This program is open to all, and might be of particular interest to students studying migration and human rights issues and/or the histories and contemporary societies of Asia broadly defined. Students interested in careers in public policy, government, law, human rights, social services, academia, medicine, and global health may benefit from this program.

Suggested courses to take in Fall 2022 after participating in this program:

  • Games and Culture (AMES 188)
  • Rethinking Asia and Middle East (AMES 195)
  • Korean Sociolinguistics (AMES 378S)
  • Human Rights and World Politics (ETHICS 129)
  • Refugees, Rights, Resettlement (ETHICS 199)
  • Family Rights/Human Rights (HISTORY 389)
  • Children, Schools and Society (PUBPOL 243)
  • Global Inequality and Research (ECON 436)
  • Korean language course at an appropriate level (beyond the FL requirement)


Potential program cancellations

DukeEngage cannot guarantee that any program will occur. Programs may be cancelled for various reasons, including COVID considerations.