The E-Lounge offers the first meeting for students by matching their free time. Students can then get together at the assigned time and talk freely while becoming friends.
“There are only a few ways for Ewha students and foreign exchange students to mingle, so we have decided to provide a meeting place at school,” said Oh Mi-ran, a teaching assistant at the E-Lounge. “This program was created to encourage students to have not only academic, but also cultural exchanges after the first encounter.”
As the meeting takes place in the E-Lounge, an English speaking zone organized by the English Program Office, students must proceed their first meeting in English.
“We created E-PALS to promote the use of the E-Lounge among students because many students seem oblivious about the English speaking zone,” said professor Hong Young-yeah, who is in charge of E-PALS. “Also, rather than talking in English among themselves, we thought it would be better for Ewha students to have an opportunity to share culture and language with exchange and international students. We play the role of triggering the first step of international and Korean student interaction.”
After the first meeting, participants can have subsequent meetings freely under agreement. They can even meet outside of the E-Lounge and use Korean. This way, students can become friends easily and comfortably.
“Because there are far more Ewha students who applied for this program compared to foreign exchange students, the meeting groups may consist of one foreign exchange student and three to four Ewha students,” professor Hong said. “Afterward, students can meet again to their preferences. In these situations, the meetings are not arranged by the E-Lounge, so foreign exchange students can learn Korean culture directly from Ewha students.”
Several students have already participated in this new program.
“I received an e-mail about this program and thought it would be a great way to meet new Korean friends,” said Robert Yang (University of Hawaii), who is currently studying at Ewha as an exchange student. “On our first meeting, we broke the ice talking about things such as TOEFL and our majors.”
Though the majority of the participants show positive responses toward the program, a few students believe improvements can be made.
“E-PALS was great in that it gave me a chance to practice English, but I think the foreign exchange student did not fully understand the purpose of the program,” Joung Yu-seon (Public Administration, 3) said. “I wished the foreign exchange students were more informed of E-PALS.”
E-PALS runs a little differently from PEACE Buddy, a program in the Office of Global Affairs for foreign exchange students.
“In the case of the PEACE Buddy program, the exchange tends to be one-sided with Ewha students helping international students unilaterally,” professor Hong said. “On the other hand, E-PALS enables both sides to interact and help reciprocally, so students can enjoy each other’s company without any pressure.”
Professor Hong said that only a handful of foreign exchange students applied for the program.
“We hope foreign exchange students recognize E-PALS as an opportunity to learn Korean culture and language comfortably,” professor Hong said.
Students interested can participate by sending their names and available time periods via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), and E-PALS will group the students by matching their schedules for the first meeting.
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