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Calvin Student Works at Embassy in Seoul
March 8, 2007

A Calvin senior spent half of December and all of the January 2007 interim term working at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, his country of origin.

Kwang Hoon Ji, also a longtime resident of Portugal, worked in the commercial office of the embassy where he had a wide variety of duties, including research, translation, interviewing and organizing documents. He also worked as the coordinator of the internship program.

One standout assignment, he says, was his work on the Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Korea.

“I translated Korean media news articles about the agreement into English to make a portfolio for Embassy use,” he says of that project.

“I felt like I wanted to have an internship that was related to my major (international relations) before I graduate,” says Ji, who has also completed a ministry internship through Calvin’s Jubilee Fellows Program during his time at Calvin. “Because I’m from Korea, I thought it would be really interesting to have an internship in Korea.”

His embassy experience was a big challenge, Ji says, but also a rewarding one.

"I was able to meet great people," he says, "my coworkers. The staff there was really excellent.”

The Korean opportunity also provided him with a comparison to his Jubilee Fellows internship, which he spent at Sarang Community Church in Anaheim, California, a ministry to Koreans and Korean-Americans.

“I was able to expand my perspective,” he says. “I was able to experience ministry in a church. But this time I was able to experience the government, the embassy, something that is totally different from ministry. Both ministry and my international relations major are areas I’m interested in.”

It was his Jubilee internship, in fact, that provided Ji with the contact that led to his embassy job -- a good example of the networking benefits of the internship experience, says Beth Cok, Calvin’s director of experiential education.

“It’s a very competitive internship for students to be able to get an embassy position. It’s normally a summer internship, and the students have to apply about six months before the internship would start. They (the embassy) had a special project that they needed assistance with, and he came at the right time. It was very unusual,” she says.

Cok hopes to create similar internship opportunities at Calvin.

“I think that we’ll need to develop more with the international relations project because that’s a growing major here.”

The embassy internship is one of several trips Ji has made to his native country since he left there in 1993, when his parents became missionaries in Portugal. Last year, he spent a semester studying at Yonsei University, a Christian institution in Seoul.

“Every time I visit Korea, I have different feelings and a different experience,” Ji says, “and Portugal is my second home.”

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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