Are you curious about what a NSLI-Y program looks like? Check out some of the highlights from the NSLI-Y AY Korean program 2018-2019!
NSLI-Y Korea Celebrates Chuseok
Chuseok is a three day holiday in the mid-fall and one of the two main important holidays in Korean culture along with Lunar New Year. During Chuseok, family members gather together, prepare and eat food, visit their ancestor’s graves and perform memorial services for their ancestors. NSLI-Y students celebrated this major holiday with their host families.
“This last Chuseok, I learned much more about Korean traditions and culture, through the experiences that my host family shared with us. When an Aunt and Cousin arrived on the first evening of the celebration, we shared a large dinner and bonded as we made traditional Korean the rice cakes, songpyeon. As we molded songpyeon with our hands, my host mother shared with me a Korean expression: “If you make songpyeon beautifully, then your wife will receive a beautiful daughter.” The following day, extended family joined us at home for breakfast and lunch, and Liam and I were able to take this opportunity to test our Korean ability albeit awkwardly. We set an enormous table full of food, and paid our respects to ancestors that had passed away, before sitting and eating ourselves… The experiences that I had during Chuseok were immensely special, and served as an opportunity to bond with my host family and better understand their culture.” ~ Jack
NSLI-Y Korea Travels to Andong to Learn about the Impact of Confucianism on Korean Society
On November 18th, NSLI-Y Korea traveled to Andong in Kyungbuk Province and visited Dosan Seowon, a historic landmark for Confucianism in Korea. This visit sparked discussions and reflections from the NSLI-Y students about the impact that Confucianism has had on the Korean education system. As the students all attend Korean high schools in Seoul, they were able to witness firsthand the differences in education systems between the U.S. and Korea.
“It seems, to me, that Confucianism heavily impacted the way that Koreans view the importance of education. Going along with Confucian ideals, education is seen as an achievement that will make an individual successful and a useful member of society; therefore, education is highly stressed. During high school especially, students focus so much on school that many of them sacrifice their health to stay up all night and study. Though Confucianism focuses on the importance of education, it seems that nowadays that importance has shifted from the importance of generally acquiring more knowledge to an importance of where one received their education. Lately, in Korea, where one attends university is one of the biggest factors on whether or not an individual will be successful in the future.” ~Emma
NSLI-Y Students Join Local Korean Students for a Day of Exchange and Friendship
On December 8th, NSLI-Y students went to Seonjeong High School in Seoul to join the Youth Exchange Day Camp with Korean students. The NSLI-Y and Korean students each presented about their school life, holidays, and pop culture.
“I think being able to meet new students from a school other than our Korean schools is so valuable because although our experiences in Korean schools are valid, there are so many other different yet equally representative experiences. Personally, I didn’t even know such thing as a tourism school even existed so it was very interesting to hear about our new friends’ dreams for the future and why they decided to attend the school instead of a normal Korean high school. Being able to eat and spend time with them just talking taught me a lot about what different high school life is like and I’m glad I got to walk away having made some really good new friends!” ~Kaitlyn
Community Service – Cooking at a Local Soup Kitchen
On January 16, NSLI-Y Korean students did their first community service project at a soup kitchen. They prepared a meal and served the elderly, homeless and people in need. The students worked hard and appreciated the opportunity to give back to the community.
“During the community service I was able to experience and learn about something that isn’t exactly the first thing you think about when you set out to learn a country’s language and culture: how people treat those less fortunate. Although the community service was hard work, I was amazed at how much this organization did and how often they did it. The women giving us directions talked about how younger people can be treated badly by the older people but no matter what they’re still allowed to come. This made me happy that they hadn’t excluded needy people based on a cultural opinion. Another aspect that stood out to me was that the organization also wanted to preserve the people’s pride, so instead of making the meal free they charge 100₩. This interested me because I hadn’t really thought of that before. It’s just something that different cultures prioritize. I enjoyed the entire experience and it was nice to help out and learn at the same time.” ~ Harmony
NSLI-Y Korean Students Visit Gilsanga Temple in Seoul
From March 23-24, NSLI-Y Korean students visited Gilsangsa Temple in Seoul for one night. Upon arrival, students turned in cellphones and important belongings. They had a short orientation on temple etiquette and learned about the history of Buddhism. After learning about the temple, students were able to experience different kinds of meditation. Students also participated in Buddhist services and learned 108 bows. Throughout this experience, students were able to have some time to relax and focus on themselves.
“Doing this temple stay gave me a new perspective on Buddhist prayer, meditation, food, and monks’ way of life. Going into the experience, I anticipated that maintaining silence during the program would be the most difficult part, but my reality was that during on the floor was the hardest for me. While during the meditation times that made it particularly hard to concentrate, it helped me appreciate what the monks do everyday and the training they have done for years is hard work. Everything about the experience helped me appreciate that their life is hard. I was surprised by how quickly I became tired on Saturday because of how much energy it took to concentrate and it made me want to keep trying to meditate at home as the experience opened me up to how useful it was.” ~Addie