It is commonly said that the first year of teaching feels like building a plane while flying it. In the middle of a pandemic, it is more challenging. Professor Kadir Jun Ayhan who is new to Ewha this semester, shared his experience of his first term teaching at Ewha.
Professor Ayhan is working as an assistant professor at the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS). He is currently teaching International Security and International Relations of East Asia.
Professor Ayhan has taught students for the past five years at Seoul National University (SNU) and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS). He previously organized the Seoul Youth Forum, where five universities in Seoul including Ewha participated. He also attended the board meetings of Korean Association for Public Diplomacy hosted by Ewha GSIS as a board member and gave a speech. He soon became familiar with the school and decided to pursue a job opening for professors.
“I knew that Ewha is a school with tradition, and also a modern school that follows up-to-date trends, but I realized it even better after coming to school,” he said. “I was welcomed by my colleagues, so I could see how Ewha’s tradition of caring for each individual worked in practice.”
Professor Ayhan commented that the system of GSIS was not much different from other schools, which made it easier for him to adapt to the new environment.
The professor stressed that he is focusing on generating an active class in his first semester at Ewha. He tries to interact more with the students and make sure they understand the theory of global issues by practicing with real situations. For instance, he once adapted a board game called “Diplomacy” to help students grasp the concept of global security.
“There are students from various countries,” he said. “Since they have diverse backgrounds, the students can share different perspectives about a specific topic. When studying about dealing with international political issues, I could see how much the access point differs from country to country.”
Professor Ayhan pointed out the care for individuals and open- minded attitude as Ewha’s merits.
“At the welcoming ceremony for incoming professors, I met the new president,” he said. “We were the first group of new professors she was welcoming as a president, so she shared the cookies that she baked for us. She could have bought the cookies in any bakery, but instead, she went into the kitchen and cooked for us. This is very special, something that is hard to see in other universities.”
Professor Ayhan also elaborated that Ewha opened up the same position for both Korean and foreign faculty. He emphasized this merit- based opening was very important for him because it is not the case in many other schools.
“Ewha was not interested in my passport, but only in my abilities as a professor,” he said. “I think this should be the case for all academic positions in Korea. Other schools open up jobs either to Koreans or foreigners, but not both. This practice is sometimes discriminatory against Koreans, and sometimes against foreigners.”
When asked about his best moment at Ewha, he replied that the moment he was offered a position at Ewha was the most memorable moment so far. Having attended several programs at Ewha, he figured Ewha was a very prestigious school with a good reputation, so he was certain he could not miss the opportunity.
Professor Ayhan also expressed his regrets about starting his first year at Ewha during the pandemic. Since he enjoys interacting with students, he wishes to see a livelier campus soon.
“I am aware students are feeling like they are falling behind because of the pandemic,” Professor Ayhan commented. “However, nothing is more important than your mental and physical well-being. Please take good care of yourself, and remember that my door is open to any student in need.”