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 Education: Heart and Seoul

Back row: Jacque Gulbrandson, Melanie Olson, Pang Vang, Duzong Yang, Kendra Caywood. Front row: Johanna Fenlon, Paul Deputy, Jiyoon Yoon, Jessica Randol. Not pictured: Sonia Wadena. Photo taken by Taegwan Kim.

UMD Education Students Head to Korea

In June 2009, eight UMD education students will embark on a 28-day program of study and discovery as they travel to South Korea to immerse themselves in the educational system and culture of that country. Students Johanna Fenlon, Jacque Gulbrandson, Jessica Randol, Kendra Caywood, Melanie Olson, Pang Vang, Sonia Wadena, and Duzong Yang will travel with education department associate professor, Jiyoon Yoon, to Ewha Womans University in Seoul. Although the emphasis of this trip is on Koreans and Americans sharing and comparing styles of education, the students are eager to soak up everything this trip has to offer.

In March of this year, President Obama cited South Korea’s educational reform as a model for much needed educational reform in this country. Korea has worked to improve the quality of their teachers and their professionalism. Korea is now the second highest scoring nation in the world in math and science. Believing that Korea could provide examples of educational excellence to UMD students studying to be teachers, Yoon worked to set up this trip for students.

A Generous Gift

As a proud alum of Ewha Womans University in Seoul, the world’s largest female educational institute, Yoon couldn’t think of a better place for UMD students to live and study. Yoon was fortunate to have patrons in LaVerne and Marvin Colness who generously provided funds for the program. “Without their support, this trip would not have happened,” Yoon said.

Paul Deputy, dean of the College of Education and Human Services Professions (CEHSP), agrees that the Colnesses support has been essential in making this program a reality. "They are wonderful people who want to give back. When they heard of this project, they responded with their gracious and generous gift," Deputy said. "Support of students in their endeavors to become educational professionals is one of the Colnesses highest values," he added.

LaVerne Colness graduated from UMD in 1957. Her husband, Marvin, was very supportive of her attending college and her subsequent teaching career in elementary education. The couple believes that education is very important for the youth of our country as they represent its future. "Teachers are needed who are very intelligent, have strong work ethics, have good moral values and have the knowledge and inspiration to help each child reach their full potential," LaVerne said. Knowing that these are core tenets of UMD's College of Education program, the Colnesses were happy to support and fund this program.

Teaching and Sharing

Fenlon, Gulbrandson and Randol all agree that this study program is sure to be an eye opening experience. “I want to expand my horizons,” Randol noted. “As a teacher, the more experience you have the better.” Gulbrandson agreed, adding that she is interested in job opportunities in Korea. According to Yoon, Korea is actively recruiting native English speakers to teach in their schools. Yoon said that in the past many parents have sent their children to America. By recruiting English speaking teachers to Korea, students can obtain a well-rounded education and stay in Korea.

Gulbrandson and Randol plan careers in elementary education while Fenlon plans to teach secondary education. Each student is interested in Korean approaches to teaching the traditional American core subjects of reading, writing, math and science as well as how Korean teachers approach their additional core subjects of morals, ethics and social studies. The UMD students are also eager to share their approaches to teaching with their Korean counterparts.

Randol’s area of concentration is language arts and communication, while Gulbrandson and Fenton’s areas are social studies. Another student's concentration is in special education. While they are studying at Ewha Womans University, each student will be paired with a Korean educational student who is also interested in their particular area of study. Each team of two will design lessons and work together with young Korean students in actual classrooms. The teams will also make presentations to Ewha University’s dean of education, Ewha students, faculty and staff. Deputy, who will be wrapping up a trip to China with ten UMD students from Communication Sciences and Disorders, will also be in attendance at the presentations.

To Contribute To A Better World

Deputy points out that UMD's College of Education's strategic goal is to create and enhance global interaction for students. "We started this several years ago and CEHSP has sponsored student learning on every continent (except Antarctica). Our motto is 'We serve ALL families and develop human potentials.' All of us, students, staff, faculty and friends want to contribute to a better world", he said.

Yoon sees the exchange of ideas and educational styles as very valuable for students from both UMD and Ewha Womans University. “Koreans are very passionate about education,” Yoon stated. Korean students usually attend school about one month more than U.S. students and also usually have longer school days. Yoon hopes that the UMD and Ewha students benefit from exposure to different teaching styles and to the diversity that is inherent when two cultures share ideas and methodologies.

For more information about this trip and Ewha Womans University, visit

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann,

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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