Korea University: US Embassy in Seoul helps North Korean defector students understand the uniqueness of American culture, through Korea University and Yale University global leadership program

Unlike past North Korean defectors to the South, who were typically business leaders or diplomats, current defectors come from more disadvantaged groups. As such, they often experience an extremely difficult period of adjustment due to a lack of financial resources, quality educational opportunities and a general knowledge of modern South Korean society and its progressive relations with the Western world.

To address this concern the US Embassy in Seoul has partnered with Korea University and Yale University to develop a new Global Leadership Program entitled “English Language and the American Experience, a Program for North Korean Defector Students.”

This six-week program features an intensive English and cultural program hosted for one-week in Seoul at Korea University, and five-weeks in New Haven, Connecticut, at Yale University starting in the summer of 2022.

The program has been designed to improve the quality of life, and future employability, of North Korean defectors, by enhancing their English language competencies, while introducing them to the historic uniqueness of American culture and its positive relations with South Korea. Candidates for the program will come from the cohort of North Korean defector students currently enrolled at Korea University, ranging in age from 20 to 30 years old, and having already completed the six-month Korean government re-education program.

An orientation and contextual framing workshops will be held at Korea University prior to the students’ departure to USA. At Yale University the program will include language training, courses in contemporary issues in American society, and a residential and extracurricular program designed to foster cross-cultural engagement and network-building with American students studying at Yale.

“It’s a privilege to work with partners like KU and Yale on a program that advances our efforts to support diversity and the inclusion of Korean students from historically underrepresented groups on U.S. campuses. The U.S.-Korea Summer English Scholars program embodies the meaning of ‘exchange,’ and we know both campuses and countries will benefit,” said Ms. Anneliese Reinemeyer, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

“Yale Summer Session is excited to be welcoming these students and hosting this new joint venture with Korea University, says Prof. Jeanne Follansbee, Dean of Yale Summer Session. We hope that by coming to Yale to learn from our engaging instructors and experience life in an American university, these students will leave with a better understanding of American culture and a new perspective on global engagement with the USA”.

“We are very excited to have partnered with the US Embassy in Seoul to host this program at Yale,” says Mr. D’Arcy Drachenberg, Assistant Director, International Cooperation at Korea University. “It will provide our students with a life-changing opportunity to gain useful English skills, while introducing them to the amazingly dynamic and inspiring culture of USA.”

“The KU-Yale program helps us move forward with implementing President Jin Taek Chung’s humanKU strategy to enhance student life through inclusivity and equity” says Prof. Hikyoung Lee, Vice President, International Affairs.

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