From January 26 to 31, 2015, NSLI-Y Korea students participated in the Alumni Youth Leadership Program (AYLP), along with six Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs), each of whom brought along five to six of their students. The AYLP’s main goal was to have its participants learn about issues surrounding the relationship between Korea and the United States and reflect on the past, present, and future of people-to-people ties between the two countries.
On the first day, the NSLI-Y Korea students introduced themselves in Korean. Each student shared his or her home state in the United States and hobbies, among other things, receiving warm applause from the audience and laughter when jokes were made.
The participants worked together on six separate teams and presented their ideas on the last day of the program. Through the AYLP program, NSLI-Y students had not only the chance to learn about the alliance between U.S. and Korea through field trips and lectures, but to build new relationships with Korean high school students from different regions of Korea. NSLI-Y students Johnny and Mary had the following to say about the experience:
“On the first day, we listened to a lecture and had a Q and A session with diplomats at the American Center Korea, who told us about their daily lives and about how they came to work in diplomacy…We took a tour of Korea’s National Assembly, Korea’s highest legislative body, and we had some more opportunities to speak with American diplomats and Korean lawmakers…Probably the most memorable part of our program was traveling about an hour north of Seoul to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)…Being so close to the strictest and most blocked off country on earth created a simply otherworldly feeling…During our week at AYLP, as we listened to lectures, took tours, and saw various sights around Seoul to learn about the connections between the United States and Korea, we got the chance to make connections of our own with the Korean students.” – Johnny
“As the week passed, and we spent more time with our Korean counterparts, I believe that all of us on the program were taught that “people to people ties” means so much more than just a topic for a project… As I sat listening to each project, what struck me as incredible was not the content of each project, or how well made the presentation was; it was looking at the teams filled with both Koreans and Americans laugh together. It was seeing the teams laugh off their mistakes together. It was seeing all the wonderful, precious relationships that had been built between us within the span of the program…I don’t believe any of us will be forgetting the time we spent at AYLP, much less the incredible people and relationships we created through the program.” – Mary