Ewhaian also promotes in building a community where students of Ewha can share worries and troubles. One of the most popular sections of the Web site, Secret Garden guarantees anonymity so that many students are able to converse even about their personal problems and ask for advice.
Here, issues ranging from basic questions about school life such as tuition, lectures and school meals to personal concerns related to diets, cosmetics and even dating issues are the main subjects of the conversations.
One of the most frequent posts nowadays is the issue related to the school’s recent decision of establishing a new college. Many students share the news that the decision was made regardless of students’ opinions and there should be a revision to the decision. Some point out that many students do not know about the current issue and are trying to help spread the news.
Such vibrant exchanges of ideas and thoughts foster and sustain the special bond of uniting all students of Ewha.
“The reason students’ participation is so active in Secret Garden is because of its own unique environment,” said Choi Seo-u, a senior majoring in Visual Communication Design who manages the Web site.
“Though it is an anonymous message board on the internet, there is still an underlying culture of warmth. Students not only console and cheer each other up but also share various stories and tips concerning a wide scope of issues including relationships, TV programs, school life and more.”
She further points out that the title “Bud” is the vital key for the sense of community and fellowship between students using the Web site. Though it is not used to designate a specific person, many students commonly use the word on the Web site to call each other and refer to themselves.
Some people even add prefixes to make words such as “Tutoring-bud” and “Chorus-bud” to specify who they are asking for help. By using such titles, students are able to call each other in a friendlier way, which is the key for promoting a friendly environment where anyone may seek help or share stories.
“I feel like I am with a friend even when I am actually by myself,” said an anonymous user of Secret Garden. “Buds reply to my questions with a lot of care and effort. Since I am able to ask questions and share stories real-time, I feel a sense of belonging that I am inside Ewha Community.”
Likewise, the students of Ewha are able to form strong social bonds by communicating via the Secret Garden page. This page promotes a sense of belonging and helps students feel that they are communicating with each other like in a real-time chatroom. Such strong bonds help Ewha students to come together and build a community where even deep, personal stories are shared.
For instance, there was a student who asked what she should do after finding out that her mother was having an affair. As she had found it difficult to solve the problem by herself or to disclose the issue to even her closest friends, she decided to seek for advice through Secret Garden.
Many Buds on the Secret Garden gave various responses, offering sympathy and consolation to the student. Even those who had no similar experience gave warm-hearted advice.
Thus, Secret Garden is not merely a Web site where students chat about their daily concerns and laugh about funny pictures. It is an open community where even the deepest personal concerns are revealed. Moreover, the community does not simply remain online, but further extends to offline meetings where students meet in person to go shopping and attend concerts together.
“I believe that it is amazing that the encounters of students on the internet can further extend to off-line face-to-face meetings,” said Park Seo-yeon, a sophomore majoring in History Education, who frequently uses Secret Garden. “Secret Garden builds a communion by offering a place to share helping stories and personal issues. I believe that it will further develop closeness and kinship between students of Ewha.”
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