Campus ReportingCampus Issue
Bridging the World with YonseiGlobal host
Chang Jung-eun Reporter  |
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승인 2005.09.01  00:00:00
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Editor’s Note
  THOSE WHO visit the Global  Lounge regularly may realize that there are in fact many foreigners on our campus. But do many know just what their lives at Yonsei Univ. are like? Does the fact that there are many such students imply that Yonsei is doing an excellent job? Just how international-friendly is Yonsei? This month's cover story gives you the chance to figure out the status of Yonsei's student programs. 
 -Kong Hyon-bin, Editor of Campus Reporting Div.

NEAR YONSEI'S East Gate, far away from students' reach, is the Millenium Hall. This area is occupied by foreign students who came to study at Yonsei. Chris William (an alias) is one of them. Originally from Michigan State Univ., William came to Korea last fall to learn Korean, a language he wasn't able to speak at all. His Korean has no doubt improved, as he is now able to have daily conversations with his Mentors friend. However, like most other foreign students, he wishes there were more.
Bring the world to Yonsei

About 1,500 foreign students like William come to study at Yonsei each semester for several reasons, notably language and culture. About 800 students from over 50 nations enroll every semester at the KLI (Korean Language Institute) and 200-300 exchange students come from foreign universities, including UC students coming through the UCEAP (Univ. of Cali. Edu. Abroad Program) program. Annually, 200 students join the Summer Sessions, and 122 international students have entered Yonsei just like any other regular student. Except for the KLI and UCEAP students, all foreign students are managed by the DIEE (Division of Edu. and Exchange).

▲ "I am satisfied with how the UCEAP is run and the cultural events it provides," says Andrew Vogel.
The DIEE is in charge of maintaining exchange partnerships and managing international students. Established in 1966, the DIEE moved to the Millenium Hall in 2000 in order to be closer to the foreign students' classes and dorms. While this department is in charge of academic and administrative concerns, the cultural aspects are being managed by students in Mentors Club and Yonsei Global, located at the GL (Global Lounge).

With even more international students expected to stream in next year for the Underwood International College, efforts to meet these students' needs are desperate. Judging from these numbers, Yonsei Univ. is no doubt a leader in campus-internationalization, but is its current effort enough to satisfy its guests?


A part or apart?

"I find Yonsei students to be friendly and kind; I just wish there was more opportunity to meet them," says William. This can seem odd, since the Global Lounge constantly has cultural events and seems to be visited by foreign students. "In reality, we're all sort of isolated around the Millenium Hall, and foreign students barely go to the main campus area," explains William. With their dorms and classes far away, some foreign students don't even know where the Main Gate is.

Language is another problem. Many exchange students take regular courses, mostly in English, with permission from the DIEE. But they later find out that many of these lectures are not really in English after all. There are professors who lecture in Korean and teaching assistants don't always speak English either. "Once, a teaching assistant announced the change in exam schedule in Korean. An exchange student in that class couldn't understand what was said, and later found himself sitting alone for the original exam schedule," says Wie Gang-jeon (Regular Program Coordinator of DIEE).

▲ Students at KLI came all the way here to study Korean. Many of these students, however, would like to meet more regular Korean students and learn about Korean culture.
The most serious problem is lack of help from the DIEE. The DIEE does give an orientation at the beginning of each semester, but it is focused on registering and explaining university rules. "We can't give students detailed information about school facilities. We?e focused on administrative concerns, and it is the GL that helps students with other activities," says Kim Yoon-ho (Coordinator/Advisor of UCEAP). Even so, the office often cannot even give accurate information to students. "When students ask about classes or other concerns, the office says one thing, and the students later find out that the office was wrong. So they feel that they can't get information from DIEE, since there's constantly a mixup," says a staff of UCEAP. "Most of us don't know much about the Student Union building except maybe the cafeterias," says William.

International students, likewise, cannot get sufficient help from the university. Although they are required to take Korean classes before entering, their language skills tend to be behind regular Korean students. Also, without help, they lack knowledge of Yonsei's distinctive events such as the Yon-Ko Athelete's Meet and the usage of school facilities. While these students no doubt need separate guidance and academic help, the university only provides a separate mandatory writing class for those who lived abroad for more than 5 years.

Due to these problems, foreign students visit UCEAP, a center for UC students located right across the hall from DIEE. "We're originally here to help UC students with their academic concerns, but we also help other foreign students who need help. It? hard for students to visit the GL counseling center since it is far away from the Millenium Hall," says Kim. UCEAP can provide more direct help and advice as their English competent staff and part-time student worker can easily understand foreign students' cultural and academic needs right away.

Fundamentally, all these problems are caused by Yonsei's lack of staff members devoted to students' needs only. Compared to the UCEAP, the KLI and DIEE do not have any means or enough staff to understand and fully help students. While the UCEAP deals with academic, cultural, and administrative concerns, the KLI and DIEE staff are devoted to just administrative concerns. While counseling is done in the GL, the staff does not link the students with it strongly, which deprives the students' chance to meet regular students and participate in cultural events.


Connecting the isolated with Yonsei

Still, Andrew Vogel is satisfied about his stay at Yonsei. An American student from UC Santa Barbara, he came through the UCEAP to learn about Korean history. "I think there are enough classes, and the UCEAP hosts an adequate number of events like field trips," says Vogel. Students like Vogel who come through the UCEAP get advice easily compared to the KLI and regular exchange students as they don't have to go all the way to GL to get help. "The university purposely located a counseling center in GL so that students could visit the main campus more often, but students find it hard to go all the way there especially when the weather is not right," says Kim.

Even though UCEAP is open to other foreign students, this office alone cannot handle the needs of everyone. In order to give help to as many students as possible, the KLI and DIEE should independently have enough staff who are perfectly fluent in English or part-time Yonseians who can help. These additional staff, if possible, can help organize more active social and cultural events. Especially the part-time workers, as fellow students, can make a stronger connection with the GL's student clubs such as Mentors and Yonsei Global.

For international students who are here to study just like any other Yonsei student, the school should provide constant counseling for them. ?e do have an English-speaking nurse, but foreign students rarely come,?says a staff from the Yonsei Counseling Center. Thus, to give more realistic help to international students the university should appoint a different advising professor or student helper who can constantly guide these students in their everyday campus life.

Not only the university, but the students also must be a part of the changing process. Foreign students should make an effort to engage in diverse events and meet regular students on the main campus area. If they came all the way to Korea from their respective countries to learn more about Korean culture and language, it would be a great help if they attempted to get closer to Yonsei Univ. and Korea.

Yonsei is the host of more than 1,000 international students. If this ambitious university wants to welcome the world to its campus, it should provide what these students need for their campus life. This fall semester, 326 more foreign students will be looking forward to their stay here, like William and Vogel. Let? give them a warm welcome.

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