Visiting Korean students immersing themselves in American culture

Penn State Abington hosting 33 South Korean students and two faculty chaperones
South Korean students

South Korean students visiting Penn State Abington will immerse themselves in ESL and cultural and historical attractions.

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — A contingent of students from the University of Gyeongnam Geochang in South Korea will call Penn State Abington home from Jan. 14 through Feb. 13. During their visit, the students will engage in intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) training and immerse themselves in American culture.

With support from Dolores Rafter Arevalo, coordinator of the Office of Global Education and Engagement, the Office of Continuing Education has customized this noncredit international immersion experience to meet the needs and desires of the Korean contingent.

Armed with their laptops and cellphones, the students will take advantage of the campus' gym, library, and learning center each morning, followed by lunch with their Global Buddies, a group of Penn State Abington students tasked with working closely with global visitors. Student Government Association President Charlena Frank will lead the group.

In the afternoons the visiting students will attend ESL classes and enjoy special lectures prepared by José Rodriguez, the director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and others.

More than half of the visiting students are majoring in nursing, health administration, industrial design, and management.

ESL Program Coordinator Jaehan Park and several Korean students from Penn State Abington will serve as interpreters and informal guides for the visitors, who will spend each weekend following their arrival at important historical and cultural sites throughout Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Students visited the Penn State Center Philadelphia (PSCP) where staff shared personal stories about life in the city over a traditional hoagie lunch. They then led the students on tours of the historic district, Chinatown, museums, and other attractions.

The Philadelphia center fosters creative collaborations with city neighborhoods to tackle its most pressing issues. Launched in 2014 as part of Penn State Extension services, it provides a platform for faculty and student exploration into the complexities of urban experience.

Inspired by Penn Asian Senior Services (PASSi), which specializes in providing quality home care to the Asian-American and immigrant senior citizen communities in Greater Philadelphia, the South Korean student visit is the latest example of how the Office of Continuing Education can customize a program to meet the needs of any group outside the traditional college experience.