▲ Graduate students from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government attending a seminar by the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province on March 19. Photos courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
A group of graduate students from the Harvard Kennedy School visited Jeju on March 18 and 19, exploring some of the island’s tourist attractions as well as meeting with government officials.
The 31 students studying at the John F. Kennedy School of Government originally came from the United States, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain, France, Denmark, Croatia and Ghana. Five were also from Korea, and helped organize the trip as part of the Kennedy School’s Korean caucus.
One of the organizers, Lee Boe Ine, said there are 30 members of the Korean caucus at Harvard. “Most are Korean, but a few are foreigners, like Japanese or Korean-Americans,” he said.
Lee, a government official employed by South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance, is currently undertaking a master’s degree of public administration in international development at the school. He said he was “very, very happy” with the visit.
“I can show my foreign friends the real Korea, even though it’s just one week,” he said. “Most of them didn’t have much information about South Korea, and for many of them this is their first time even in northeast Asia.”
In Jeju, he said, the participants particularly enjoyed a visit to Songgak Mountain where they walked an olle trail and a visit to Alddreu Airfield where they saw the remains of the Japanese occupation. They also appreciated a presentation on Jeju Global Education City by project manager Christopher Bogden, after which he answered questions.
Kim Je Yon, the coordinator for inter-national relations for the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, said the Korean caucus brings students to Korea every year but this was only the second time Jeju had been included in the itinerary. That was because last year’s group had evaluated the province as their favorite part of the visit, she said.
Another of the caucus organizers, Chenie (Chae Eun) Yoon, works for the Human Rights Commission in Seoul. Currently studying toward a master’s degree in public policy, she said that even though she usually lives in Korea, visiting such places as the National Assembly and some of the country’s major corporations gave her “more of an inside look at how they operate.”
She also enjoyed introducing her home country to her fellow students. On Jeju, the group enjoyed seeing the scenery and learning about the haenyeo diving women, she said.
Joseph Lai from the United States, who is doing a masters’ in public administration with a focus on economic development, said it was his first time to visit Korea.
“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “They’ve done an excellent job of organizing it. We’ve had the opportunity to not only see the usual tourist things but we got to speak to companies and government officials also.”
He relished meeting Moon Ha Yong, Korea’s ambassador to Jeju and advisor for international relations, and learning about the JGEC and other development plans for the island. “It’s very ambitious and very exciting,” he said.
“The people we met in Jeju have been very warm and very welcoming.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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