Korean Culture Day offered students at Pittsburg State University the opportunities to share and learn about the nation’s diverse culture.
Korean Student Association President Kyongvin Jamie Lee said learning English opened a world beyond Korea for her, and she enjoyed being part of doing the same for those who attended the event Thursday evening.
“Moving a world away to a bigger world means that I’m learning something all the time,” Lee said of her transition to the United States as a student at Pittsburg State University.
She said that is one of the purposes of KSA, which has 40 Korean students. An additional 40-50 American or international students participate, and Lee said the group also has 180 students represented on its Facebook page.
“Both Korean and non-Korean students are involved to learn the culture,” Lee said.
Eunae Abbuehl, an elementary education major who traces her roots to Atlanta, said she has Korean ancestry and is a member of KSA.
“My mom is Korean, so I thought I’d explore those roots a bit more,” she said.
“I learned a lot of history, and something interesting about it was about how human beings originated - the folk tales,” Abbuehl said.
She also said this could provide some new talking points with her mother.
“I’ll probably talk about her roots more and her ancestry and things she remembers about the culture,” she said.
David Yun Schlee helped emcee the evening and said he had the chance to learn more about his heritage.
Schlee was born in Seoul, but was adopted by American parents when he was three months old.
“I find it very interesting because I don’t know anything about this culture,” he said.
He has made some attempts to learn during college, but much of it is still new.
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“I actually enrolled in a Korean class two years ago,” he said, adding that it then was canceled.
The result was that he had to learn how to pronounce a number of the items on the program in order to fulfill his role.
“I really like doing something like this because it does give me insight,” Schlee said.
The program featured greetings and guest speakers, and Cathy Lee Arcuino, interim director of international programs and services, noted the importance of the real life experience of serving as ambassadors, whether as a Korean or American student.
“All of us in this room also serve as ambassadors for our country,” she said, adding that those who would like to may serve as host families or Pitt pals with international students.
The program also featured information about Korea, two pop modern dances, traditional singing and musical instruments, taekwondo, a fan dance and a percussion piece, as well as a meal following.
Lee said one of her personal highlights was participating in a performance of “Gangnam Style,” but that the program was designed to highlight many of the diverse elements of Korean culture, including martial arts, dancing, singing, instruments and more.
“The taekwondo show was the best,” Lee said, adding that the teamwork and practice involved was intensive. “The demonstration was the highlight of the show today.”