Visit by South Koreans underscores campus' international focus

November 03, 2008

Penn State Harrisburg writes another chapter in its expanding focus on global education this fall when a second delegation of South Korean schoolteachers comes to campus for a monthlong program to enhance their abilities in English while learning about American culture.

Building on the success of an educational visit from a similar group of Korean schoolteachers over the summer, the Oct. 27 to Nov. 21 experience will involve 22 teachers from the Incheon School District, one of the nation’s largest with 480,000 students.

The South Korean collaboration underscores Penn State Harrisburg's commitment to be the regional leader in international partnerships and educational alliances. "It is vital that today's students be able to succeed in the emerging global society," points out Mukund S. Kulkarni, senior associate dean for Academic Affairs. "This partnership which brings 22 Korean teachers to our campus and the region will not only serve to improve their skills in the classroom, but will provide area schoolchildren, and their teachers valuable education on another culture. Penn State Harrisburg realizes that today -- and tomorrow -- there is no way we can effectively work without learning about other cultures.'

He continued, "We have identified nations which are emerging strongly as players in globalization. Korea is one, along with India, China and Brazil. We are committed to cultivating partnerships with students and educational institutions in these nations, and others, in order to provide expanded opportunities for our students and the college community to increase their global understanding and appreciation of other cultures."

Penn State Harrisburg's efforts are complemented by the University-wide focus on international initiatives, one of the most ambitious in the nation. Further strengthening the effort, Penn State Harrisburg has allocated resources for its own international programs office, further enhancing opportunities for students and faculty. "An international focus is natural for us," Kulkarni said. "With our 60-plus international faculty plus international students from 27 countries this academic year, we can do more as we provide educational opportunities. These faculty and students bring an international advantage to the college and community. People who are conversant in more than one culture have a different view of the world."

Penn State Harrisburg's commitment to share its international expertise and resources with the external community also will play a major role in the visit by the South Korean schoolteachers. Students and teachers in the Middletown Area School District and at the Milton Hershey School will benefit from interactions, lessons and collaborative educational experiences.

The visitors will be observing classes, working with local teachers, exchanging ideas, sharing cultural information with students, and even playing and learning games as part of the program.

Annette Cole-Gill, head of the elementary division at the Milton Hershey School, sings the praises of the upcoming interactions. "Our elementary students will have the opportunity to 'travel' to Korea while staying right here in Hershey. Our students come from families with limited incomes and have little chance to travel and experience the rest of the world. Through reading and other educational pursuits, our children learn about the nations of the world, but this partnership with Penn State Harrisburg provides an indispensable 'live' opportunity to enhance learning."

Cole-Gill stresses the learning opportunities to be gained by elementary students at the Milton Hershey School her school through the Korean teacher interaction are nearly endless. "We tell them, here are teachers from another country interested in learning. We’re helping them while they help us. What a lesson. We are, in the process, modeling lifelong learning for our kids and send another reminder that there are a number of opportunities after Milton Hershey School – including college."

"And," she concluded, "we want people all over the world to know about Milton Hershey School."

Penn State Harrisburg is drawing on its strengths in teacher education, humanities and American studies, and English as a second language instruction to create the four-week agenda exposing the Koreans to several different teaching strategies and methods that serve as models for the effective teaching of English. The strategies are designed to be implemented when the teachers return to their own classrooms..The agenda also includes a panel discussion with international students and two one-on-one luncheons with college faculty and staff to reinforce conversational skills.

To ensure success and build proficiency, the program was built by the campus to begin with relatively simple pieces of literature designed for children. Each week, the program will become more challenging.

During the third week, the Korean teachers will visit area schools where they will each present a 20-minute lesson to students on the life of a child in their homeland. They also will observe teaching and tutoring in the area schools.

Cultural excursions are scheduled to Harrisburg, Lancaster County and Washington, D.C., along with Founder's Day activities at the Milton Hershey School.

The international partnership between Penn State Harrisburg and Incheon began in January when a visit by a five-member delegation from the Korean school district visited the campus for two days of meetings and off-campus visits. The collaboration resulted in a memorandum of understanding in which the two partners mutually agreed to establish a working educational and cultural relationship.

Penn State Harrisburg's expanding international presence also includes eight study tours for students during this academic year. Locations included are: Peru, Brazil, Spain, Rome, France, London, Germany and Poland.



Last Updated March 19, 2009