As many of you already know, Ewha Womans University was established on the foundations of Christianity and because this religion has played a huge role in its creation, chapel has become a normal part of the university life. It has become mandatory for all students regardless of religion and ethnicity to enter chapel and listen to the preaching of a minister. Since this is a new experience, on my first day of chapel, I was quite anxious to see what the sermon was all about. First I learned that if I were late, I would not be allowed to enter. And, if I missed two sessions of chapel, then I would have to repeat the whole thing over again! I then learned that there are assigned seats and if I happened to be sitting in the wrong seat, then I would automatically be considered absent. Actually, a very good friend of mine, a senior at DIS was sitting in her right seat during her sophomore year, but the person responsible of taking attendance made a mistake and my friend has to suffer the consequences by retaking chapel!
Because of the international program at Ewha, I am not always the only foreigner in class; on the other hand, during chapel it? another story. I am literally the only non-Korean ethnic and Muslim person there! Nevertheless, that does not mean that all the other students are Christian. In fact, there are Buddhists, Atheists and people of other religions listening to the words of God and Jesus Christ. Studying about Christianity is not a problem for me; in fact I believe that learning about other religions and cultures is very important. That is why I am currently taking a course called Christianity and the world, as well as Religions of Korea. I believe that educating oneself about different religions is a necessary part of life, especially when there are many conflicts worldwide dealing with religious contention. By learning about other religions, I can develop a better understanding and respect, thus avoiding animosity with others. At the same time, I am given the opportunity to share and teach others more about my own religion, Islam.
Personally, a disadvantage about chapel is that the minister preaching speaks in Korean, a language that I have not fully mastered. Living in Korea, I have acquired that it is fundamental to know the Korean language and a foreigner cannot survive only by speaking English. So my Korean is fine when it comes to ordering pizza and asking for directions, but during chapel most of the time, I have no idea what is even going on. The only part I do get to enjoy is the singing and dancing, which is held on particular occasions. Despite my thirst for knowledge and my willingness to learn about other religions, because chapel is in Korean, I just simply sit in my chair, make sure my attendance is taken, and catch up on the intense homework I have from my classes at DIS. Now that I am a regular student at Ewha, and have to continue going to chapel, I hope that something can be done about this commitment. For instance, bringing in English speaking preachers once in a while to convey the message of Christianity, or even English sub-titles, to translate the Korean preacher? message are wonderful changes. Also, it would be useful to talk on issues of inter-religious dialogue. I look forward to my time at Ewha and hope that this prestigious university is willing and open to adjusting the university life to one that is fitting for all its proud students.
(International Studies, 1)
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