Eileen C. Feikens
Director of College Guidance at Dwight-Englewood School, New Jersey
"My journey with Sejong through Korea was equally enchanting and enlightening. My attraction to this opportunity was to gain a better understanding of Korean culture and society to see how both shape the goals of my Korean and Korean American students and families. Experiencing multiple facets of Korean life, I learned a great deal about the Korean mindset and attitude towards education and how important it is in the fabric of my students' lives and their relationships with their parents.
So, how can I help them to achieve their goal? How can I best support them? I think the first step is to acknowledge their story and to let them know that I understand where they are coming from. It is equally important to guide them as they navigate the differences between their native culture and that of the US.
As these two cultures often clash, i.e., the importance placed on individual expression vs. duty to one's family, their adherence to their traditional Korean values will certainly be tested. While the name of the college that they are admitted to will be paramount to both them and their families, and will be looked at as a measure of their achievement, their ultimate success will lie in their ability to take the skills that they hone here in the US back home and integrate them within their native culture. As their advisor, I now more keenly understand the underlying elements that frame their reason for studying abroad and I hope that my experience in Korea will empower me to connect with them more personally and productively.