To help exchange students adjust and accommodate better in Korea, CAU provides global ambassadors known as GLAMs. GLAMs are students who extend a welcoming hand by assisting exchange students with basic needs. In order to understand a GLAM’s roles and what they do for CAU exchange program, I’ve interviewed the GLAM president, Chaewan Kim.
What does a GLAM leader do?
A glam leader is a basically a coordinator. I usually manage things, such as connecting all the GLAMs together and making sure they are doing well. I also keep them up-to-date about activities that are coming up and what we are expected to do. The most important thing about my position is to have solidarity. I make sure that there is strong relationship and trust between the GLAM members and the teachers, otherwise it would be going downhill.
How did you get the position?
I first learned about GLAM through posters around campus and decided to join. Once I was selected as a GLAM last June, we had an orientation. The previously GLAM had a closing speech and asked if there were any volunteers who would like to be the next leader. At first, no one volunteered since the position required a lot of work. But since I usually took leadership roles when I was younger, I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn more about myself . So, I volunteered and went against one of my peers. There was a vote and eventually…I won.
Why did you choose to become a GLAM leader?
I choose to be a GLAM leader because I wanted to have a different kind of experience compared to other Korean students at CAU. A lot of the students usually do internships or volunteer work related to companies or in their field, but I wanted to expand my horizon and work with international students. I’ve alway been interested in different cultures as well as spreading my own culture. Plus, since I am working with students all over the world, I thought this opportunity would allow me to improve my English and help international students practice their Korean.
What kind of difficulties do you face being a GLAM leader?
I think one of the hardest thing is to work and study at the same time. It’s hard to manage my time because I’m either studying or working. Being a GLAM requires a lot of patience, time , and communications between the members and advisors. I have to be on top of game and make sure that we have all necessary information to make exchange students lives in Korea worth wild. All in all, even though there are some difficulties that come with being a leader, I believe it’s worth it at the end!
Did you experience any struggles as a GLAM?
Yes! Last semester, It was the first time for all the GLAMs meeting exchange students and vise versa. I didn’t know much about being a GLAM around that time and wasn’t sure how to arrange meetings as well as connecting with the exchange students. When we had activities…at first I wasn’t that open to everyone. Even though I went abroad before, I didn’t know how to make foreign friends in Korea. All the exchange students were from all over the world so I had to understand what life in Korea is from their perspective. As time progressed, I started making new friends, not only exclusively in my group, but with other GLAM’s groups. I learn new things about the exchange students that I would have never known if I wasn’t as open. It really did change me. I became more positive, patient, and open minded.
What do GLAMs do for the exchange students?
There are several things GLAMs do for exchange students. First and foremost, we take care of them. SInce its the exchange students first time in Korea they are usually not familiar with the culture, so we help them adjust and accommodate. We do this by providing some information about CAU in the orientation, such as setting up bank accounts, purchasing insurance, applying for an Alien Registration Card (ARC). We also help familiarize them with CAU campus by providing a campus tour. But one of the most valuable things GLAMs do is becoming a reliable and close friend to the exchange students. We want to make this an unforgettable experience for the students. I think it’s normal when exchange students come here, and they are curious about the korean culture, language, and other things so I believe that GLAM are kinda like “culture spreaders”.
What’s your fondest memory working with exchange students?
One of the most memorable experience was making a video for one of the exchange student’s birthday. We had all the GLAMs do a speech in the video, including his friends and family members back home. It was really touching because he actually cried at the end! After watching the video we all went to the beach and had dinner together. After that day, I realized that we were more than just friends…we were a huge family.
What would you recommend exchange students to focus on during their stay in Korea?
I’m pretty sure not that many students focus on their study while in Korea. I wouldn’t blame them, they are only here for a short amount of time. My biggest advice is just to experience life. Have fun, go out, and explore Korea! Make the most of your time here memorable and amazing. Of course, exchange students should worry about their grades, but not to an extreme. You’re only an exchange student once, so live life like there is no tomorrow! I recommend them to travel not only in Seoul, but outside of Seoul and to utilize their time here wisely!