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Calvin to Welcome 30 Korean Students
June 20, 2007

Korean Students at Meijer Gardens in summer 2006For the third consecutive year, Calvin College will welcome a group of Korean students eager to refine their English language skills and to experience American culture.

From July 5 through August 6, the English Study Program, under new director Julie Veeneman, will host around 30 students from two Christian universities located in South Korea: Handong Global University in Pohang, North Gyeongsang province and Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary in Seoul.

The students will spend their time at Calvin refining their language skills in spoken English.

“At this point in their college careers, these students have studied English for most of their high school and elementary school careers,” Veeneman says. “They need to turn what is written on a page into understanding spoken English and producing it.”

She notes that the program originates from a Korean government initiative encouraging the development of fluent spoken English.

The Korean students will be taking a college level class in both speech and writing. They will also pick up a lot of English during their downtime, Veeneman says.

“A four-week period of time, immersed in English and U.S. culture," she says, "really does do a lot toward developing spoken proficiency.”

The students will live in Calvin’s Kalsbeek-Huizenga residence hall, along with resident assistant tutor hosts, who will help out with homework and adjustments to American life.

Though the homework load will be considerable, Veeneman says the group also will pack a lot of recreation into their month-long stay.

The students will take trips to Lake Michigan, to Chicago and, at the end of their stay, to Washington D.C. They will also take in a Whitecaps game and visit the homes of people in the Calvin community for dinners and weekend stays.

“Actually that component is very important,” Veeneman says. “It’s the relationships they form and the people they meet that stick with them more than viewing the Washington monument.”

This is the first year the program, which originated in Calvin’s English department, is operating under the aegis of the office of Pre-College Programs.

“The English Study Program will provide a great opportunity for our office to extend its reach to pre-college-age youth through English as a second language programming,” says Pre-College Programs director Rhae Ann Booker, who plans to expand the existing program.

A 1975 Calvin graduate, Veeneman returns to her alma mater from a career spent in Latin America working for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. She is looking forward to working with the students from Handong Global University, a school which has previously partnered with Calvin’s engineering program-and Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary.

“They’re very earnest students and surprisingly similar to Calvin students in some ways, considering the huge cultural gap and the educational emphasis in Korea,” she says.

Thirty years ago, when freshly graduated from Calvin, Veeneman worked with some of the first Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotion refugees fleeing the fall of Saigon.

“I would love to see the English Study Program host students of many language groups working on their English here,” she says.

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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