This summer, Southern Adventist University hosted a group of students from Sahmyook University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution in South Korea, for four weeks. The 16 students, all studying early childhood education, were sponsored by a South Korean government grant as part of the country’s initiative to increase university competitiveness and global education. The visitors expanded their perspectives by engaging with Southern’s students and faculty, particularly in the School of Education and Psychology.
The students’ time at Southern included three weeks of classes in English as a second language, and one week centered around teacher training for Forest Kindergarten — a popular and innovative outdoor teaching method. In addition to the classes, Southern planned cultural activities and field trips for the group.
This is the first year for Southern to host education students from Sahmyook, although the University has conducted a similar program for several years with the nursing students of Saniku Gakuin College and Shukotoku University in Japan. Because Southern and Sahmyook are sister universities, a few Korean faculty members have spent their sabbatical years as visiting professors at Southern, and this connection prompted the group’s visit.
The partnership between Sahmyook and Southern not only benefits students academically, but also leads to deeper connections. For the final two weeks of the program, students stayed with host families. One couple who opened their home to two of the students are Mandy Sharpe, D.P.T., director of clinical education for Southern’s physical therapist assistant program, and her husband, Kirk.
“They really just settled into our family very well,” Sharpe said. “We talked and joked, and my little kids would wake up and go straight to the visiting students to give them hugs.”
Students received a positive impression, as well.
“American people, I think, are very kind,” said Liz Wang, one of the visiting students from Sahmyook. “They are always smiling at us, even though we are strangers to them.”
Jennifer Carter, director of Southern’s Christian Service program, was the event planner for the Sahmyook visit.
“We’re hoping to continue this friendship,” she said. “We want to send groups of our students to visit Sahmyook, and they’re working on coming here again next year.”
Southern Adventist University | September 2019