Friday, January 30, 2009

Wonju, Korea Students Tour the Taubman Museum

Tanya Gray, the Taubman Museum’s Methods Educator and host, Jonna Detweiler narrated a tour for twelve middle-school exchange students from Wonju, Korea last Friday. David, his American name, is an English teacher traveling with the students serving as their interpreter. David spoke at Roanoke City Council on January 22nd. Dr. Kye Kim is Vice-President of the Wonju Committee and his wife Moon Kim is helping chaperon the students. Moon Kim explained that the preference is for students to stay with American families so they will be fully exposed to American culture. In July those families hosting Wonju students will have the opportunity to travel to Wonju for a two-week stay. Roanoke City provides a Student Scholarship Travel Grant to cover 50% of Roanoke students travel expenses.

Wonju is one of Roanoke’s seven sister cities and only one of two that hosts a student exchange program. The other sister city with an exchange program is Saint-Lô (Normandy), France.

Wonju has grown in population from a 100,000 in 1964 when Wonju first became a Roanoke sister city to 300,000 in population today.

Sandra Lyle, Chairperson of the Wonju Committee, Jack Tompkins, Director of Roanoke Valley Sister Cities, and Dr. Jennifer Mulligan, law professor at VWCC, are coordinating the program. Along with the help of other committee members the students participate in fun things like pottery, tie-dye T-shirts making, calligraphy, and shopping. This all culminates with a 3-day trip to Washington DC and a tour of museums and monuments.

Moon Kim explained that this was the students’ first time in America and that it has been quit a culture shock for them. Students were “frozen in awe” when they first arrived, said Kim.
Linda Harrison, Wonju committee board member, said this was the 3rd year for the Middle School Student Exchange Program. Harrison emphasized that “it is so competitive over there [Wonju] and that in order to succeed [students] have to learn.”

Helen, her American name, was frantically typing into a small laptop computer-looking device that was discovered to be an electronic dictionary. The device translates Korean to English, and English to Korean. Helen said that an electronic dictionary was “a common thing for all students to have” in Wonju. English, considered to be the universal language, is an absolute requirement said David.
The highlight of the tour came as they were escorted to the TMA boardroom where a $10,000 Korean work of art hangs. It was brought to America by Wonju Vice-Mayor Koo as a gift to the Taubman Museum at the grand opening on November 8, 2008. Tompkins hopes to have art from all seven sister cities on the walls of the TMA boardroom.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Local Events



No Comments

Comments are not moderated. Notify any abuse at put ABUSE in the subject and the offensive post.

Leave a Reply