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Supporting education and social integration of migrant and refugee youth – 2024

Korea - Seoul
Dates May 23 - July 19, 2024
Program Focus

Assisting with educational goals and social adjustment of migrants of various ethnic and national backgrounds and North Korean refugees in South Korea. Learning about the challenges and possibilities of cross-cultural engagement across language and cultural differences.

Program Leaders
Program Themes
  • Children & Youth
  • Education
  • Human Rights
  • Migration
  • Public Policy



Information Session:

  • Thursday, October 12, 7:00 PM – Languages 109


During their two-month engagement in South Korea, students will work in educational facilities for 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 economic migrants from Russia, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and elsewhere and refugees from North Korea. 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 understanding and benefits could be achieved through building lasting connections between local communities 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: designing and running an English immersion program for elementary school children and after-school tutoring of middle school students. Dates: May 27-June 21 (subject to change). In Jiguchon School, students will spend approximately 3-4 hours for class preparation and 4-5 classroom contact hours each day, contributing to the school’s teaching and extracurricular activities – sports, language and arts, computer skills, and so on – conducted in English.
  • Wooridul School, an alternative school for North Korean refugees, and Center for North and South Korean Culture and Education (3-4 weeks)
    Activities: helping prepare for GED (General Education Diploma) test, participating and developing activities for engaging with refugee communities. Dates: June 24-July 17 (subject to change). At the school, Duke students meet and interact with refugee community members and assist with their English language learning for reading and writing. At the Center, they will learn about and participate in projects for enhancing interaction and communication with refugee communities.


Program Requirements

Language: We highly encourage students with competence in Korean and/or Chinese to apply, although fluency in either language is not required for all students at the time of application. Students from diverse backgrounds, interests, and linguistic competence will be considered.

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

Coursework: It is required for students who do not have any prior knowledge of Korean to take or at least audit KOREAN 101 in the spring. All students are encouraged to take a related course, such as Migration and Human Rights in Korea (AMES 17S), prior to and/or after the program (see a list of courses below). A statement of such intent is expected in the application.

Skills: Ability to excite young children, teenagers and young adults to learn language, work with others, and engage in creative, cultural and social activities such as music, performance, arts, and sports; 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 an extended stay hotel, with two people per room. The hotel is close to a public transportation hub for easy commuting to service sites. Subway trains run very frequently and a one-way trip (with transfer) takes approximately an hour. The hotel is equipped with essential amenities including electricity, internet access, and a bathroom with a shower in each room.

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, multilingualism, education of minoritized groups, and human rights issues and/or the histories and contemporary societies of Asia broadly defined and U.S.-Asia relations. Students interested in careers in education, language planning and ideology, public policy, government, human rights, and social services may benefit from this program. Our alumni have successfully entered many of these career paths.

Suggested courses to take before or after participating in this program include the following. Many courses are cross-listed in various departments. Consult program leaders with questions about other relevant courses.

  • Migration and Human Rights in Korea (AMES)
  • Two Koreas (AMES)
  • Archiving and Visualizing Asia (AMES)
  • Interethnic Intimacies (AMES)
  • World of Korean Cinema (AMES)
  • Rethinking Asia and Middle East (AMES 195)
  • Bilingualism (AMES)
  • Korean Sociolinguistics (AMES)
  • Second Language Pedagogy (AMES)
  • Languages, Margins, Borders: Representations, Practices, and Policies (LINGUIST 125FS)
  • Racial Attitudes, Racial Prejudice, and Racial Politics (POLSCI 238)
  • 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.

Student Reflections from 2022