Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Experience in Culture

While I was home over the weekend, I found out that I would be having lunch after church on Sunday with a group of students from South Korea. No one really knew much about it, but I was excited about getting to meet people from a different culture.

On Sunday, we found out that they were here for two weeks on an exchange program between their school in South Korea and Indiana University of Kokomo School of Nursing. This is the 7th year that IUK has been part of this exchange. The five girls, Sojin Kim, Hyeongju Kim, Hyejin Park, Hyojun Park, and Ahrang Song, ranging in age from 21-23 came with their professor, Dr. Hyo Soon Jang, to experience school at an American university. They arrived January 17 and are leaving tomorrow the 30th to go visit Chicago before heading back home.

Since the Director of Nursing at IUK goes to my home church, the girls came with her on Sunday. We were introduced to them, but we were not told the name of their school right away. I just assumed that it was some Korean name that none of us would be able to pronounce anyway. I couldn't even pronounce the girls' names! Later we found out that their school had been founded as The Jesus University School of Nursing in South Korea. Over the years the name has changed several times from Margaret Pritchard School of Nursing to Margaret Pritchard College to Margaret Pritchard University. Recently, they decided to go back to their original name of The Jesus University.

During lunch, we found out that the girls had a love for soups, fruits, and vegetables. They also found their love of junk food while they were here. It was just another way for them to fit into our culture. Americans are probably the most unhealthy eaters in the world. We will see if they miss our wonderful foods such as triple chocolate cake once they get home.

While they may prefer the healthier foods to our unhealthy yet delicious snacks, one thing will always connect girls together. That is fashion. One of the girls, Ahrang, came up to me while I was arranging the vegetable tray just to say that she really liked my shoes. This gave us a little bit of a conversation starter, so it was really fun for me to get to talk to her for a little bit.

Before they left after lunch, the girls presented my pastor, Keith Treadway, with a gift for Korea. He opened it, and inside was a wall hanging with the South Korean flag and some Korean writing on it. We never figured out what it said since it was written in older Korean characters, but it was still neat to see how different their language was from ours.

Meeting these girls was a really fun experience for me. I always enjoyed getting to know the foreign exchange students in high school, so this was no different. I think part of this has to do with my love for travel. My goal is to someday travel the world. Hopefully I will get to go see some of my new friends in their hometowns like they got to see me.