We Want Globalization? Force the Birds Out of the Nest
We Want Globalization? Force the Birds Out of the Nest
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  • 승인 2011.10.12 19:34
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The scene: a classic Bostonian setting on a warm fall afternoon, not unlike the recently beautiful days here in Pohang.  On a park bench amidst trees reflecting the influence of autumn in Boston Commons, two men sit looking out over the pond.  The older gentleman questions his young client, “You’ve never been out of Boston have you?”  The man in his 20’s shakes his head, no.  “So if I asked you about art, you could probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written.  Michelangelo.  You know a lot about him, but I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel.  You never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling, like it was touched by the hand of God.”

This scene from the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting has always stuck with me.  Studying about a subject or even just reading about it for pleasure is great, necessary, and encouraged.  However, no extensive study compares to life experience.

It seems one of the hot topics amongst universities, besides budget, both in Korea and abroad is this concept of “globalization.”  How can we bring more international scholars to our campus?  Will it help our ranking if we can increase the diversity of our student and faculty population?  While this is a positive step in the right direction, it seems to be blinded by the reality of the situation.  How does having the one South American student in class make other students feel they are a part of a diverse campus?  How does having the small group of exchange students from Germany help to enlighten Korean students if they remain within their “foreigner friendly” groups and locations?

While it may look good for numbers, what would really aid in the efforts to globalize universities is a study abroad requirement for all students to complete, in some form, before graduation.  Of course if funding were not of concern, this could actually be a viable consideration.  The International Relations Office at POSTECH works with approximately 85 sister universities in 22 countries in an exchange program amongst scholars, students, and researchers. 

According to information on the school’s webpage for international relations, POSTECH students who have completed at least two full years of study,and meet minimum GPA and TOEFL numbers, have the opportunity to participate in the exchange program to “experience the foreign cultures and the atmospheres at our partner universities. The experience will offer the students academic challenges and help them develop global perspectives.”

For the Study Abroad Program (SAP), which was established in 2007, POSTECH students can go abroad for study to universities in the U.K. and North America.  However, like the majority of all university study abroad programs worldwide, students must again meet minimum scores with TOEFL and GPA (88 for TOEFL and 3.3 GPA).Therefore if students do not meet the minimum requirements for either study option, they would have to find other means for going abroad on their own accord.

If schools really do have an interest in cultural exchange, then it’s a two-way street.  Occasionally sitting next to “that boy from France” in your communications class does not compare to the experience of perhaps being “that boy from Korea” in your communications class in France.

Last month, Kim Rahn of The Korea Times reported that “the number of Korean collegians and adults studying abroad continues to increase while more and more people are choosing Asian countries over European or American nations, a report showed Sunday.”  Rahn reports that according to the statistics given to Rep. JooKwang-deok of the Grand National Party, 251,887 adults went overseas to study last year, a 4.5-percent increase from 240,954 in 2009.    At POSTECH approximately 100 students studied abroad in accumulated totals for the year 2011.  As of Aug. 30, there are approximately 180 international students at POSTECH, including exchange, visiting, and graduate students.

The continued rise in the number of Korean students going abroad follows the trend of other countries, such as the United States where approximately 300,000 students are reportedly going abroad this year.  Justin Pope of the associated press recently reported in his article “Beyond the U.S. Bubble,” that “study abroad is following changes in higher education itself.  Once reserved for a wealthy and adventuresome elite, its now reaching a wider, more diverse population that often has less travel experience.  But also like higher ed, study abroad is getting more expensive.”

After one has studied or travelled abroad and has experienced that feeling of being the “outsider,” one is then more receptive to the feelings and experiences of other foreigners who visit one’s own native country.  Once one has had to step outside, perhaps way outside, one’s comfort zone in another land and culture, a person is then more likely to empathize with and approach that lone “foreigner” student in class and welcome him or her to engage in daily life.  This is when true “globalization” begins.

Before arriving at the Vatican City to see the Sistine Chapel, which was spoken about so eloquently, I took a “leave of absence” from school in order to work and travel abroad. After following the signs to “Cappella Sistina,” I hate to admit it, but I was a bit disenchanted by the ceiling that looked “as if it were touched by the hand of God.”What I did experience there, and what remains one of my most cherished memories, is the conversation I tried to have with an Italian nun about my father.  I can still vividly remember where I bought my father a rosary from the nun as I tried to improve my broken Italian.  Eventually she even looked pleased when I confidently gestured “per mio padre” and I left thinking, yes, in my own way, I have experienced the Sistine Chapel.



Leanne Salazar
Lecturer of HSS