Early one morning, four KDIS students; Mohamed, Soumya, Chokchai and Khaung, are seen standing timidly in front of the gates of Yunyang Elementary School.
To some, graduate students and elementary school may seem like an odd combination.
So what are they here for? The reason they are here at Yunyang Elementary School is because they are participants in the 2019 Sejong Talent Donation Program. Sejong Talent Donation is a program aimed at contributing to the community through not only sharing personal experiences, but also representing and introducing one’s home country to help foster globalism among students in Korea. Hence, the program is called “talent donation”. Participants are required to conduct a mini talk-show with students in assigned classrooms at each school.
Our student volunteers are soon shown the way to the teachers’ office by the kind school staff. While waiting to meet with their assigned teachers, they excitedly discuss how to conduct the session. Soumya, Khaung and Mohamed are worried about whether their presentation will be interesting enough for the Yunyang students. Unlike them, Chokchai is going over his script one more time in a relaxed manner. He assures his fellow participants, “I have participated in talent program for 3 times already. The students always show interest and enthusiasm. So, don’t worry.”
After a few moments, the homeroom teachers come and bring them to the classrooms where they will conduct their presentations. The teachers introduce the KDIS students to the class and go sit at the back, handing over the reins to our volunteers.
Khaung takes a deep breath and introduces herself in Korean. It isn’t perfect, but the students give her a big round of applause for the effort. She feels happy and her tensed nerves relax at the encouragement. She continues and introduces her country Myanmar to the students using the PowerPoint slides she prepared in advance.
In other classrooms, her three friends are also excitedly explaining about the different cultures and traditions of each of their home countries in a simple and interesting manner for the young students: Soumya about her country, Algeria, Chokchai about Thailand and Mohamed, Egypt. All four of them are from different countries, but they share the same heart about making these sessions as fun and informative as possible for the Yunyang students.
Soumya recaps her experience:”At the beginning, I was a bit nervous but enthusiastic at the same time. After that, I really liked the experience and had a nice time with the students. They were so kind and keen on learning about my country.”
Each participant conducted two 40-minute sessions in different classrooms. After the 2 sessions, they are tired but their faces are full of smiles. They are happy that they could interact well with the students, and that the young students understood them despite many barriers.
One of the homeroom teachers, Teacher Ahn, shares that she had worried about them before, especially because of the language barrier. However, she was pleased to see her students were able to follow the English presentations. Teacher Ahn recounts, “I was a little worried that most of the presentations are in English. But I could feel that our students are trying and giving attention to understand it. It was a great opportunity to learn about different cultures and tradition of a foreign country from people who actually live there.”
One of our new little friends, Student Jang from Yunyang Elementary School, was also eager to share his opinion about the Talent Donation sessions. He told us that, “Although I haven’t been to those countries, I found it really interesting because it’s different from Korea and everything’s new to me.”
Every semester, students from KDIS volunteer and donate their time and efforts to share knowledge about their home countries to students. The program is linked with 16 public schools throughout Sejong and students are assigned to the schools on a voluntary basis. Depending on their availability, they can participate at several different schools.
In the 2019 fall semester alone, students from more than 20 countries participated in this program.
Mohamed explains his reason to participate in the program: “It is a good opportunity for cultural exchange with Korean students. We can also become familiar with Korea’s schools and its education. I really recommend my colleagues to be a part of this program. I believe they will enjoy it.”