In the world, there are around 195 different countries; all with different cultures that vary from other countries. The term for relating to several different cultures is ‘multicultural.’ This would be the case of foreigners who have studied abroad or lived away from their motherland for a long period of time. In some aspects, being multicultural might be difficult since there can be culture shock which is when a person might be having a rough time adjusting to the new culture that they are living in. On the contrary, once multiculturalism is fully developed, then it becomes more enjoyable as people can see through different perspectives and relate to various aspects of society.
At Changwon National University, there are a total of 303 international students whom are attending as undergraduates, graduates, and as exchange students. These students came to South Korea to learn and pursue their passions, but with a new type of atmosphere; being surrounded by unfamiliar people with completely different mindsets. It might be difficult to adjust in the beginning, especially considering the difficulty in speaking. The different languages cause a language barrier for the students. However, all odds aside, there are business groups and departments in the school that are willing to cater to the needs of these international students and help them adjust to their new surroundings, while making new companions as well. Moreover, this leads to the discussion of the mini-Olympics at the multicultural convention, held on May 14 in the gym.
Kyeong-Hee Moon, leader of the Global Multicultural Society Cultivation Business Group and
a professor of the International Relations Department, was the head of this event and she was kind enough to provide more details about the convention itself.
Q: When did the multicultural convention officially start?
A: It started around two years ago in 2016. This program was named the ‘multicultural convention’ because of the variety of cultures that come from the international students. This program was intended to let the international students know more about traditions, customs, music, food, and other aspects of Korean culture during their stay in Korea. There are two events that happen in the multicultural convention. The first event being the mini-Olympics, which involves students in various physical activities to bond with a multitude of other students. The second is the latter event and is the presentation competition which is held in the lecture room. This event involves academic presentations, but it also includes some cultural performances as well.
Q: What is the Global Multicultural Society Cultivation Business Group?
A: This business group is comprised of three departments: The Department of Law, the Department of International Relations, and the Department of Society. This group was also founded to not only help international students, but also immigrants through a variety of programs that can teach them more about Korean culture. One example of a program that was made by this group was the Global Development Cooperation Program which enabled students to go abroad and experience a whole new culture.
Q: Who are the masterminds behind the programs designed for the multinational convention?
A: We have a group called the, “Task Force Team,” that consists of eight members with some international students and Korean students mixed in the group. Their synergy is what leads many programs to push through as they are the ones who plan, think, and strategize most of the events by themselves, then just receive an affirmation from teachers.
Q: The program has many Korean student participants. Does that mean regular students at the University can also participate in the event?
A: The Korean students who participated in the event are from the three departments that comprise the business group. For now, there is a restriction for the Korean students, but we are trying to make this event applicable to all Korean students of Changwon National University. As for the international students, they are welcomed to join the event regardless of the department they belong to.
The mini-Olympics started in the morning and since it was held on a Sunday, there were more attendees than that of last year which was reportedly held on a Friday. There were four different teams in the event with around 42 members in each team. The event started off with a simple warm-up followed by a group jump rope activity which started to reveal the ambitions of each team. Next up was the fast rope flipping activity that lead to many groups becoming more active than before. Then after that, there was a series of group relay events that really showcased the excitement of each individual on each team. The last event of the mini-Olympics was the tug-of-war. It embodied the strength and fortitude of the teams as they battled each other to pull the rope as hard as they can. The mini-Olympics ended with an award ceremony and closing remarks that made everyone happy as they left to go home.
To get a better perspective of the participants and how they felt, an interview was conducted to two different students who participated in the mini-Olympics. The first student interviewee was QuChunhua (Japanese language and literature department, 2nd year), and when asked about the mini-Olympics she said, “I went to the mini-Olympics last year and there were more foreigners in last years’ event compared to this year. On the contrary, there are more Korean students and more people in general who participated in this years’ event. I heard about the mini-Olympics through my adviser and the international student’s Kakaotalk group chat. I have gotten to know more people outside of my course and I am very glad that I have participated in this event.” The second student interviewee was Zhang Shaosong (International trade department, masters 2nd year) and he gave his comments about this year’s mini-Olympics saying, “I didn’t go to last year’s mini-Olympics, but I feel that the overall atmosphere was really great and it’s really nice having more Korean student participants as well. I got to know about the mini-Olympics event through the posters around the school and messages from my adviser. Through the mini-Olympics, I got to know more people, but I wish I could have befriended the students outside of my team as well. Overall, this program was a really great experience and I look forward to the next programs to come.”
All in all, this year’s mini-Olympics was a success. It was proven to be better than last year and more enjoyable through the participation of not just more international students, but more Korean students as well. It is also pleasing to see that Changwon National University does not neglect the needs of the international students, instead it tries to aid them in their adjustment to Korea. While multiculturalism might seem like a difficult task, events such as the mini-Olympics really help spark the bonds between students of different nations and helps them get to know one another without the inconvenience of a language barrier. In the end, all the people including those outside the University, are just people; some with different nationalities, some with different backgrounds. Perhaps the important thing is that even with diverse cultures, forming a bond is not that difficult as long as there is love present for the other.
by Baik, Jong-Min
|A Picture of the Participants|
|Stretching activity and warm-up|
|The group jump rope event|
|Students competing in the tug-of-war|
|A Picture of the Participants|
Baik Jong-Min, CUB reporter Jmbae1025@gmail.com
<저작권자 © The Campus Journal, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>