American Councils for International Education is excited to announce the launch of its newest study abroad program, the Korean Intensive Summer Language Program (KISLP), and introduce the inaugural KISLP cohort of 16 students. KISLP provides students from the U.S. with the linguistic, cultural, and historical knowledge necessary to gain language proficiency through intensive study and immersion in local Korean society and culture. Students live on the Chungbuk National University (CBNU) campus in Cheongju, South Korea, engage in varied cultural activities, and have extensive opportunities to form life-long connections with South Korean families and peers.
To grow the diversity of the KISLP programming, the students could apply for additional financial aid through the Judith Ehm Foundation Fellowship. The fellowship was established in honor of Judith Ehm, a trailblazing Korean American entrepreneur and businesswoman dedicated to community, equity, and diversity. It supports highly motivated students who demonstrate a strong commitment to studying Korean, prioritizing students from marginalized backgrounds. With assistance from the Judith Ehm Foundation Fellowship, 78% of the first KISLP cohort is from groups traditionally underrepresented in international education, and 35% are first-generation college students.
To celebrate the launch of the first American Councils-designed study abroad program in South Korea, we spoke with members of the inaugural KISLP cohort to discuss their ambitions, experiences with the Korean language, and excitement about their upcoming study abroad journey.
American Councils is proud to establish mutually beneficial ties between U.S. and South Korean universities, students, and alumni through the KISLP program. Learn more about how you can support future Judith Ehm Foundation Fellows and help American Councils increase the diversity and inclusiveness of study abroad programs.
Jasmine has been learning Korean for the past seven years but has never felt comfortable conversing verbally in Korean. "I plan to use KISLP as a way to improve my speaking and listening abilities so I can be more confident communicating my ideas in Korean," she shared.
Jasmine, a junior at the University of Virginia, studied abroad in South Korea last summer, which reinforced her dedication to improving her Korean language skills. She looks forward to spending time with native Korean speakers. "Albeit, I am a little nervous, but I look forward to learning from the experiences and interactions I have with my language partner and host family."
A junior at Brigham Young University, Sarah Gore is majoring in political science and minoring in Korean. Her career goals are to work in foreign relations between the U.S. and Korea. She hopes that her time with KISLP will help her reach her language goals associated with her minor in Korean and improve her understanding of Korean culture.
Sarah is eager to experience life in Korea through the cultural excursions KISLP provides. "They present unique and amazing opportunities, some of which are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I am really excited to be a part of," Sarah said.
Sarah shared her gratitude for the financial aid she received from the Judith Ehm Foundation Fellowship. "My participation in the Korean Intensive Summer Language Program was only possible because of the scholarship I received. Thank you for helping me be a part of this program!"
BaoTran's Korean professor at the University of Washington introduced her to the Korean Intensive Summer Language Program. Wanting more of a challenge in her Korean language classes, BaoTran applied to KISLP. "I want to improve my proficiency more and be fluent in Korean by the time I graduate," BaoTran shared. "This program seems like a perfect fit for that purpose."
BaoTran hopes to pursue a Master of Arts in Asian Studies in the future, noting that her time with KISLP will provide the first-hand experiences and global competencies necessary to strengthen her understanding of Korean culture. BaoTran's dream career is working as a Foreign Affairs Officer in South Korea, serving as a liaison between U.S. and Korean military leaders.
BaoTran is most excited about being fully immersed in Korean culture and learning from native speakers. She looks forward to a deeper understanding of Korean life and language. "Having the opportunity to make popular Korean dishes, to learn about traditional ceremonies, clothing, and even taekwondo, is beyond what I could ask for," BaoTran said. "I am beyond honored to be chosen for this program and excited to see how much I will improve afterward. Thank you, American Councils, for providing me with this wonderful opportunity!"
Seattle University first year student Lynia Morris heard about the Korean Intensive Summer Language Program through one of her peers. She was determined not to give up on her goal of studying abroad in Korea this summer after having her application rejected by another study abroad program.
As a student of psychology, Lynia plans to combine her major with her Korean language studies by someday opening a counseling center for foreigners in South Korea. She hopes her experience in South Korea will give her first-hand experience in an unfamiliar culture and its associated challenges. "I want to truly understand future clients and hopefully provide resources to improve their experience and assure them that they are not alone," Lynia shared. "I believe that one of the best ways to understand someone and their experience is to know what it's like for yourself."
Lynia is most excited about building relationships with her host family and language partners. "Because I'm coming into KISLP as a college student, I'm looking forward to hopefully gaining new friends and building more relationships with different people in Korea," Lynia said. "Plus, having real conversations in a comfortable and gracious learning environment will be fantastic to help better my language skills."
Laila Simone Robinson
A junior at Northwestern University, Laila Simone is an aspiring costume designer who hopes to use her Korean language skills to bridge cross-cultural connections through fashion. After completing all the practical Korean classes at her university, Laila wanted to find a more immersive language-exchange opportunity to challenge her and provide more opportunities to apply her language skills to conversations about literature, art, and current events. "I knew KISLP would be top-notch in terms of quality, even in its inaugural year," Laila Simone said. "I want to use KISLP as the bridge to find more comfort in learning the language so that I can be a better conduit in creating cross-cultural art and fashion."
Laila Simone looks forward to working with her language partner and learning about Korean culture. "Going from using Korean generally in an academic setting to learning more about real people who live in the language is a bit daunting, but still exciting to me," Laila Simone said. "From the proposed classes, excursions, and opportunities to connect with Korean culture, I know I will leave this program as a stronger Korean speaker."