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Appalachian expands educational opportunities into South Korea

BOONE—Appalachian State University has signed a formal agreement with Chonnam National University (CNU) in South Korea, paving the way for student, faculty and staff exchanges at both institutions. The agreement was signed in December 2012 by Dr. Lori Gonzalez, provost and executive vice chancellor at Appalachian, and Dr. Kyung An Song, interim president of CNU.

View larger imageDr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development, presents an Appalachian State University banner to Dr. Youngman Kim, dean and vice president for international affairs at Chonnam National University.View larger imageShinhye Kang, coordinator for North America and Australia exchanges at Chonnam National University, discusses the details of student and faculty exchange logistics with Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development at Appalachian State University.View larger imageStudent ambassador Jihyun Oh at Chonnam National University and exchange student Irene Garcia-Paulin from Canada led a campus tour for Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development.

“There are many good reasons as to why it is important for Appalachian to actively engage with South Korea,” said Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development.

Over the past several decades, South Korea has achieved a remarkably high level of economic growth and is now the United States’ seventh-largest trading partner with a trillion-dollar economy, Lutabingwa explained. Major U.S. firms have long been leading investors in South Korea, while South Korea’s top firms have made significant investments in the United States.

The landmark Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, enacted in March 2012, underscores the depth of bilateral trade ties between the two countries. The agreement is expected to boost exports by billions of dollars annually for both countries and create new export-related jobs in both South Korea and the United States.

Additionally, the people-to-people ties between the United States and South Korea have never been stronger, Lutabingwa said. South Korea, on a per capita basis, sends the highest number of students to the United States to study than any industrialized country in the world. According to the 2012 Open Doors Report of the Institute of International Education, South Korea ranks third among the countries in the world that send the largest number of degree-seeking students to the U.S. The first is China and second is India.

Lutabingwa said the formal agreement would make study in South Korea more affordable for students from Appalachian who have already shown interest in attending a South Korean university.

“For example, this semester four Appalachian students are studying in Korea at different universities in Seoul, but since these are not partner universities, they are paying more to study there than if they attended an Appalachian exchange partner university,” Lutabingwa said. “The relationship with CNU will make it affordable for Appalachian students to study in South Korea.”

The South Korean initiative will augment the popular East Asian focus within Appalachian’s global studies program. “We have a thriving and growing program in East Asian studies. Approximately 20-30 of our 130 majors choose this focus area,” said Dr. Alexandra Hellebrand, director of the program.

“While our global studies students greatly profit from their study of the Japanese or Chinese, they recognize that Asia encompasses many more languages and cultures. Our students have become interested in South Korea as a way of expanding their opportunities to study abroad in that area of the world and to experience other Asian cultures firsthand,” she said.

“We expect CNU to be an attractive exchange location for our students to study,” said Leah Newell, interim executive director and director of international student exchange and study abroad at Appalachian. “CNU offers more than 200 courses in English, many of them in majors offered at Appalachian; provides a significant amount of scholarships to international exchange students; and has a summer program with courses taught in English and priced at a very reasonable cost to students from Appalachian.”

Appalachian students who wish to study at CNU in South Korea are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible. The application deadline for summer and fall 2013 is Feb. 15.

CNU also is interested in hosting Appalachian faculty to teach summer courses in various disciplines. The university is providing very competitive incentives to encourage faculty members to consider teaching in Korea. These incentives include covering international airfare, a stipend and accommodations. The international summer session usually is between June 22 and July 18. OIED will inform faculty members when the new round of recruitment for the summer of 2014 is announced by CNU so that they can apply.

Established in 1952 and located in the southern city of Gwangju, CNU has continued its commitment of fostering future leaders and professionals as one of South Korea’s leading universities. The university has 17 colleges, 11 graduate schools, and 37,000 students, including more than 1,000 international students. The university provides scholarships for international exchange students to encourage them to study in South Korea.

With 1.5 million people and located in the southern part of the country, Gwangju is the fifth largest city in South Korea. Also known as the City of Light, Gwangju is a historical city considered as the birthplace of South Korean democracy.