|▲Professor Roberta Jenkins with her baby|
There are several foreign professors and teachers in CWNU. Some work and teach in the Language Education Center, others lecture in other departments. The campus journal met with Roberta Jenkins who has taught International Relations for 15 years in Korea.
Q: Can you introduce yourself?
Roberta: My name is Roberta Jenkins. I was born in Canada and I have taught International Relations in CWNU since 2003. I’ve loved to travel since I was little. I participated in many exchange programs and volunteer programs, so I’ve traveled and worked abroad a lot. Since I like to travel, it is not very surprising for me to work in a foreign country, like Korea.
Q: What made you come to Korea?
Roberta: It’s a long story. I worked in West Africa for volunteer programs when I was in university. After I worked in Africa, my plan was to continue working there, so I took every class that I could as an undergraduate about Africa or development security for pursuing the master’s level. There weren’t many people in Canada studying West Africa, so I applied to the department and was accepted for a rare and great opportunity with someone. But unfortunately, he took a year off from university, so I had two choices: whether I would study the next year or study with another person, and his specialty was East Asian Defense Politics. To be honest, it was totally different from what I did before, but I didn’t have another choice. So I started to look for work in Korea, Japan, and China and the first place I got a job offer was Korea. My plan at first was to stay for one or two years and then leave, but I fell in love with Korea.
Q: I heard that you have a unique way of ending the class: that is, writing comments about what students want to say on an evaluation paper before ending the class.
Roberta: I had a hard time making relationships with students. I had been experimenting with different kinds of ways, so I made an evaluation paper and the one I use now is the one that stuck the longest. It gives students the chance to talk to me. No students come to office hours, even though we have them, but everybody writes a comment on the evaluation paper before the lecture ends. And I can have this ongoing conversation and it helps me learn what students worry about, and are interested in.
Q: What is the most impressive moment, when you teach students?
Roberta: Watching students developing is the most impressive moment. And it happens a lot. For this semester, there was a very unusual assignment, but unlike my expectation, students did really well. One of my students that I’ve taught many times wrote on the evaluation, “It was very interesting and I can talk about it anytime.” She was a fine student but not an outstanding student. This is what I love about teaching.
Many years ago, I taught a class about NGOs and there was a student in the class from engineering who never took an International Relations class before. And about two or three years later, I got an email from him, and he had volunteered for NGOs in Africa, or India. He totally changed his plan. I don’t want every student to change their whole life plan, I just want to see you believe you have value. Whatever choice you make, you can do it. And I hope that some of the skills that I teach in the classroom will make that process a little bit easier.
Q: Can you share advice to readers and students.
Roberta: I want to tell them to keep an open mind; opportunities come in strange shapes and sizes. If somebody had asked me when I was your age, “What will you be doing in 15 years?” I guarantee you nothing I am doing now would have come out of my mouth. If you are willing to follow things when they come up, then they take you interesting places. I think a lot of Korean students are just really fixed on a particular job or path. So I hope they don’t miss their opportunities.
by Gwon Min-gwan, cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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