In 2020, a new Dean of International Affairs started working in the new semester. He will further internationalize and develop the work of the International Office.
Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself and your role as the Dean of International Affairs.
A. I am currently working as a professor of ‘Physical Education’ at Chung-Ang University. After being accepted at Seoul National University in 1990, I pursued my Master’s degree at Ohio State University in sports management. Luckily, I received my Ph.D. from Ohio State University, and stayed for two years as a professor. But, the cold weather of the state was not a good match for me, so I decided to build my career in Florida State University, and spent three years teaching at the institute. After several years passed in America, I wanted to challenge myself in Asia, and got the chance to teach at Nanyang Institute of Technology in Singapore for a year and a half. Finally, I got qualified here at Chung-Ang University in 2008 and have been teaching here ever since.
Currently, due to COVID-19, my work is being concentrated on the exchange part the most. Our team and I are trying our best to create more active exchange programs with diverse partner universities, and keep building new partnerships.
The next step that I am focusing on would be creating a better quality of learning environment and study for our international students. Before my experiences at Ohio, I didn’t realize how valuable the opportunity to participate in an exchange program to a foreign country could be. Now, I came up with the conclusion that being exposed to different countries is very meaningful. Therefore, my team and I are focusing on how to give a better administrative support to our students.
Q. Please tell us how you feel about being assigned to the International Office? Also, what is the reason why you came to the International Office?
A. I was nominated to this post under the decision of the President of the university. Our new President’s idea of an ideal work environment is giving a chance to the younger generation to lead the administration system, and he considered me a good match to this role. When he first offered this title, I felt cautious because I thought I, a 50-year-old, was not wise enough to take an important position like this. Despite my worries, our president considered that I was old enough to take the position (Haha). I believe that this position was offered to me because of not only the career I have built in America and Asia, but also my teaching experience with students coming from different countries.
Q. How did your experience of studying and working abroad influence you? How does it have a positive effect on your work?
A. As mentioned in the previous questions, I have built my international experience in the U.S. and Singapore. These experiences had a great impact on me to become the Dean of OIA.
Firstly, I established great relationships with many people in the U.S and Singapore. They have now become people in charge of administrative affairs at many universities. As communication is the main key to interact with various universities abroad, it is very convenient for me to work at the OIA thanks to the networks that I have built from my experiences abroad. Sometimes I ask “How could we provide better quality of international services to students?” Using the network that I have, I’ll strive to improve international programs at Chung-Ang University.
Embracing different cultures was another lesson that I learned throughout my experiences abroad. I became more open minded and realized that culture is a concept that people should accept, not something you have to understand the reasoning of. The way each culture is now must be the result of much trial and error based on logical reasoning. Therefore, I consider we should fully accept them. If we approach others with biased perspectives, we might miss a good opportunity to learn about different cultures.
In addition, it is an essential attribute for the international director to accept various cultures. Based on this mindset and my international experience, I will strive to promote globalization of Chung-Ang University.
Q. In your opinion, what is the important factor to further promote international exchange programs at Chung-Ang University?
A. Many universities in Korea had already launched international exchange programs long before Chung-Ang entered the field. Even though we tried to establish partnerships with many foreign universities, we received responses that they were already partnered with other Korean universities. Therefore, I believe Chung-Ang University is in a disadvantageous position to internationalize because it is a latecomer to international partnerships. To overcome this disadvantage, the environment of CAU needs to be changed in a way that international students would feel more comfortable. For example, everything that surrounds us in our campus is mostly shown in Korean – directions, announcements and so on. Therefore, many international students have a hard time adjusting to their lives here as exchange students due to the language barrier.
Next, we should offer diverse programs to our international exchange students, that they can be more exposed to Korean culture. Many Korean students are shy to approach exchange students because it is still very new for them to see foreigners studying in the same campus. Due to the position that our domestic students take, exchange students tend to stick to themselves despite the fact that they came to Korea not only to study, but to see and learn about Korean culture. That is why I felt like the exchange students go back to their home country without knowing much about Korea. To overcome this, we need to enhance more diversity in our exchange program, and people at CAU need to be more globalized. That is why we encourage more of our domestic students to participate in outbound exchange programs. It is very important to balance the number of inbound and outbound students, but for now, we have more inbound students. In the future days, I am hoping to see more Chung-Ang students taking advantage of exchange programs so that they can gain more international experiences abroad.
Q. Do you have any special goals? If you do, what would you do to achieve those goals?
A. One of my priorities would be making Chung-Ang University well prepared for further globalization, not only in the aspect of hardware, but also software. Updating the sign boards around the campus in English and making it more foreigner-friendly would be a good start!
We have about 500 universities in our partnership, but our domestic students are keen to interact with well-known universities like in the American continent, especially in the west coast. Unfortunately, our university is not much appreciated from those universities. To promote our university, we need to plan a better strategy in marketing, so that we can broaden the scope of our partnerships and present a wider variety of schools for our domestic students to choose from. For now, we are aiming to establish new partnerships with National Taiwan University, UC, and other schools in the States. I am only hoping that the COVID-19 will soon settle down.