OELP to South Korea
A group comprising 35 students and 5 teachers embarked on an Overseas Experiential Learning Programme (OELP) to Seoul, South Korea, between 26 November and 2 December 2017.
During the trip, the students were assigned an ethnographic study task that they had to complete in various destinations like Insadong, Gwangjang Market and Bukchon Hanok Village. In each of these places, the group observed how the South Koreans communicated through verbal and non-verbal means.
Aside from cultural experiences such as these, the students were also assigned a STEM task in preparation of 2018’s Love Fiesta. Through visits to the Samsung Innovation Museum, Seoul Energy Dream Center, KIA Motors factory and Cheongyecheon Museum and Stream, the students gained inspiration for their booth concept, which they presented on the final night in Seoul. For instance, the Samsung Innovation Museum demonstrated how artificial intelligence has changed lives and streamlined processes, while the Seoul Energy Dream Center demonstrated the importance of harnessing new technologies to reduce energy consumption and pollution levels. The high point of these STEM visits was the visit to the KIA Motors Factory, where the group witnessed how advances in technology and automation allowed for car body parts to be produced with a “zero error” rate and with great efficiency through the use of robots. Through this, the students gained valuable insights into how automation has made many jobs redundant, an issue which resonated with the students when they considered the jobs that would be available to them in future.
Another important part of the trip was the visit to the War Memorial of Korea and the visit to the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ). After learning about the history behind the Korean War, the students witnessed first hand the tension palpable in the DMZ, where tunnels spanning across the border of North and South Korea had been dug by the North Koreans in preparation of an invasion of South Korea. Thankfully, these tunnels had been discovered and closed before any such invasion could occur.
However, the highlight of the trip was most definitely the visit to Seoul Global High School (SGHS). Through the interactions with their counterparts from SGHS, who lived in a boarding house on campus with a regimental schedule for all to follow, the students learnt the crucial role that discipline plays in achieving success. In addition, the students also learnt more about Korean culture through various classes such as the Korean calligraphy art class, folk music and geography class, as well as the Korean traditional dance class. As the SGHS students rushed from class to class in order to be punctual, our students learnt firsthand the importance of respecting others’ time. When the time finally came to part, the students exchanged gifts that they had prepared as a symbol of the lasting friendship between JJC and SGHS.
In all, OELP 2017 to Seoul was an enriching experience for all who participated, and the group left South Korea with fond memories of the week spent in Seoul.