USCEN started out in March of 2004 by regularly holding "Editor's Day" meetings, a monthly gathering of chief editors from about 12 to 13 universities English presses. The editors agreed upon the need for a union that would make the voices of the English presses be heard and establish a closer network amongst the English presses.
Finally, at the August 2004 Editor's Day meeting the union settled upon its official title as USCEN and was categorized into five offices, respectively: General Affairs, Editing, Publicity, Training, and Public Affairs. Also at times, they form temporary offices to organize special events.
Shin Dong-kyu, the first president of USCEN and the former chief editor (03) of the Dongguk Post, expresses the vital meaning that the first meeting of USCEN has for the English presses. "Though the contents of our first meeting may not have seemed as systematic as they were originally planned to be, the fact that the university English presses in Seoul finally made a link through USCEN is in itself a great progress. Now under the name USCEN, we have a ?nion advantage that will help our voice be heard and become more influential."
The first general meeting of USCEN consisted of two sessions. It started out by discussing common concerns that English presses have such as how to increase readership, how to make the most of university English presses characteristics, how to differentiate from Korean presses, and how to improve its competitive edge. Then there was time for reporters and editors to play various games to form and strengthen friendships among group members.
Shin has great hopes for USCEN during and after his presidency. "USCEN meetings will continue to take place every year and I hope someday USCEN will expand its network area internationally to form bonds with Chinese and Japanese university English presses as well."
Early on in the meeting, there were many awkward pauses in the conversation. Yet, by the end, the participants were glad that they had scheduled the day for USCEN. What seemed to be unsatisfying to some members was the overall low attendance. Kim Moon-sun, a reporter at the Chung-Ang Herald, assesses her day, "I had a great time getting to know reporters from other universities but it would have been better if more universities had participated. And I hope people will continuously keep contact with each other even after the meeting.
Shin says, "As each university's English press develops, it is important that schools and the public acknowledge the role of USCEN. Therefore, a plan we are currently working on is co-hosting a national English contest with Herald Media which would be an efficient way of publicizing USCEN.
Highschool and college students can both participate in the three sections of the contest, which are essay, speech, and reporting. The preliminary contest will take place in the beginning of April and the final will be held on May. Further information is scheduled to be posted up on the Korea Herald homepage by mid-March.
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