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WKU launching International Year of South Korea

The International Year of South Korea will bring nearly 30 events featuring South Korea to WKU campuses and several community venues.

WKU is celebrating the International Year of South Korea during 2016-17. To view the calendar of events, visit http://www.wku.edu/iyo/

WKU is celebrating the International Year of South Korea during 2016-17. To view the calendar of events, visit http://www.wku.edu/iyo/

On Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the International Year of South Korea will be featured at Centennial Mall with Chuseok: Korean Thanksgiving. Geared toward students but open to all, this event will serve as an introduction to the year and include giveaways, Korean cuisine, a nod to some traditional Chuseok activities, and opportunities to learn more about Korea.

Chuseok will be one among many opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community members alike to experience Korea during the academic year. A Korean Film Festival, a talk on the role of gender in Korean politics, and several art exhibits offering differing perspectives on contemporary art and the human experience will populate the fall calendar. Also on tap in the spring is a class sampling Korean wine, beer and spirits, offered in cooperation with Liquor Barn and Bowling Green-Warren County Community Education.

The International Year Of… (IYO) program is an annual yearlong exploration of a single country designed to provide WKU and community audiences with a deeper and more nuanced understanding of and appreciation for the world around them. Academic departments, individual faculty, staff members, community organizations and businesses partner with the Office of International Programs (OIP) to bring country-themed events while WKU faculty add new international content to their academic courses.

To view the current calendar of events for the International Year of South Korea, visit wku.edu/iyo.

Since its launch in 2014-15, the IYO has generated over 70 events and nearly 100 courses augmented with target country content, while drawing attention to existing programs and partnerships connecting WKU to the country of focus. The IYO South Korea is poised to continue this trend, most particularly in the area of course enhancements. Nearly 60 courses in disciplines ranging from Art to Geography to Environmental Sciences will feature Korea-related content.

Dr. Jeff Samuels, (center) a professor in WKU's Department of Philosophy & Religion, visited a Buddhist temple outside of Seoul as part of the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar (ZSEIFS) to South Korea earlier this summer.

Dr. Jeffrey Samuels, (center) a professor in WKU’s Department of Philosophy & Religion, visited a Buddhist temple outside of Seoul as part of the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar (ZSEIFS) to South Korea.

The eight WKU faculty members who participated in the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar (ZSEIFS) to South Korea earlier this summer will play a critical role in bringing Korea into the classroom. Following a semester of on-campus preparation and more than two-weeks in the East Asian country, ZSEIFS South Korea alumni have transformed 24 academic courses to feature this year’s target country, even creating resources for their peers to use to internationalize their own courses.

The IYO South Korea will also shine a light on WKU’s existing connections in Korea, among them a new dual master’s degree in chemistry with Changwon National University, along with three student exchange partners (Hanyang University, Konkuk University, Yonsei University), and the opportunity to engage in Korean language study on campus through the Department of Modern Languages.

“We want students to walk away from this year with a new and lasting appreciation for Korean culture as well as a deeper understanding of Korea’s social, political and economic landscapes and the many ways in which Korea and the U.S.—even Kentucky—intersect,” said Addie Cheney, Assistant Director of OIP.

Beyond the change at the individual student level, Cheney added that this year’s focus on Korea has the potential to influence WKU’s larger international profile in the long-term, pointing to some of the results of past IYOs that include increased numbers of students studying abroad, faculty and student research projects, international partnerships, and a sundry of permanently internationalized courses.

WKU will continue its annual country exploration with Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017-18 and Cuba in 2018-19. Faculty and staff who have experience in or knowledge of any of the countries coming up in the IYO program and wish to contribute should contact OIP. Those who have suggestions for future countries of focus are encouraged to consider submitting a proposal. The selection cycle for the 2019-20 country of focus will begin in the spring of 2017.

Additionally, faculty interested in expanding their knowledge of and connections with any of the upcoming countries of focus should consider applying for the associated ZSEIFS.  Co-leaders Dr. Jerry Daday (Sociology) and WKU graduate Gina Dzelil (Business Management ’04), are already preparing for the 2017 ZSEIFS to Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Applications for that seminar will open at the end of August.

The Zuheir Sofia Endowment was created to facilitate the mission of the Office of International Programs, which endeavors to provide leadership in the development of a strong international profile. Zuheir Sofia, a 1969 WKU graduate and 2014 Honorary Doctorate recipient, is chairman, president and CEO of Business Bank of Florida Corp.

About the Office of International Programs: The Office of International Programs supports the internationalization agenda of the university by creating opportunities for faculty and staff development in an global context and supporting the development of meaningful co-curricular programming for student, campus and community audiences.

Contact: Kari Paschetto, (270) 745-4218

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