- Associated Press - Thursday, January 26, 2017

VIENNA, Ill. (AP) - A group of South Korean students and Vienna High School students are discovering they are more alike than different. They have cellphones, connect electronically and enjoy talking about social media, girlfriends and boyfriends, music and dancing.

“There’s a lot more in common than different - more than I expected,” VHS student Max Albritton said.

The group of 25 South Korean high school students, along with their teachers, administrators and chaperones, will spend 10 days in Southern Illinois.

The students attend Daedong Taxation High School, which is located in the northwestern portion of South Korea. The school trains students in the fields of tax accounting and finance, preparing them for careers as a CPA, CTA and professional managers such as CFO or CEO. Students are guaranteed jobs after graduation and have a choice to attend college before or a few years after taking a job.

Each South Korean student is paired with a member of the VHS student council, and they will attend classes with them.

Michael Moon of New York City, a chaperone with the group, translated for students “Steve” Jung Seung Hoo, “Jake” Na Yong Hyun and “Brian” Song Yul-Wha, joking that they said all the girls were pretty and guys were handsome and strong.

“Kid’s here are so awesome and nice,” Moon translated.

Though the kids share plenty in common, there are a few differences.

He explained that the all the students in the taxation high school are really good at math, so they found math at Vienna really easy. They were surprised at the number of Vienna students who had their own vehicles at age 16 and 17. Korean students must be at least 18 to get a driver’s license. Boys also have mandatory service in the army or navy.

“That is the number one anxiety for boys,” Jun Kim, assistant professor in the department of health education and recreation at SIU, said.

Yonhwa Jo noticed a difference in the size of houses. Huiju Jeon said that because South Korea is a small country, the cities are large. Almost all of the visiting students live in an apartment or very small house.

Moon explained that about 10 million people live in the city they are from. It is a very congested area. Vienna is quiet by comparison.

“In America, you drive a car to get where you are going. In Korea, we almost always walk and can get where we want to go,” Jeon said.

American students noticed a few differences, too.

“We went to eat Mexican food, and they eat less than we do,” Sydney Charles said.

“Their classes are more difficult and applied to life,” Adrienne Bullock said.

Moon said the idea is to let the students experience American culture and a different educational system. In addition, American students are introduced to Korean culture.

“The constant exploring of cultures a different school will be good for Vienna,” Kim said.

The Korean students will camp in the cabins at Touch of Nature Center at SIU Saturday through Monday. In addition to the regular winter camping activities offered at the center, the students will participate in team building exercises and experience lectures by college professors.

When Kim heard about the opportunity to host high school students from South Korea, he approached several Southern Illinois schools that were not interested. One of his colleagues at SIU, Tina Colson, had children who went to Vienna High School. She put Kim in touch with Vienna Superintendent Joshua Stafford, and he was happy to host the visiting students. They are staying with families in the Vienna area.

Students arrived in New York City and spent a couple days sightseeing, visiting Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and other sites. They also saw “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway. They also traveled to Chicago before returning to South Korea.


Source: The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan, https://bit.ly/2jhU4DY


Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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