Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Korean middle schoolers enjoy summer English camp at SIU


More than a dozen middle school students from South Korea say they are in awe of the kindness of people in Carbondale.

“I like their welcoming atmosphere. They were really delicate, and warm-hearted,” Youngseo Cho, the students’ English teacher, said.

The group was also impressed by their ability to see the dark and


glitter-dusted night sky. Many of these students, due to the high population densities in South Korea, have rarely, if ever, been exposed to the starry and black-purple sky in real life.

Gyeonggi province in Korea and the overall Seoul capital area, where the students are from, has a land area of around 4,160 square miles. But the area is densely packed with more than 25 million people and a constant stream of visiting tourists. Compared to the United States, a combined Gyeonggi province and Seoul are just a little bit smaller than the state of Connecticut (5,028 square miles) which has a population of around 3.6 million people.

The English camp lasted for two weeks over the summer semester at SIU; 15 middle schoolers from Songsan private middle school in Hwaseong, South Korea, came to Southern Illinois University to attend English classes lasting each morning until lunchtime. After lunch, the 15 Korean middle school students and their three SIU student helpers went on field trips and tours both around the campus, and in the greater Carbondale city area.

Each morning, five days a week, the students had immersive English lessons taught by SIU professor Tina Colson, who was assisted by recent graduate Mario Cantin and current students Clover Robinson, Jenay Harrington and this reporter.

Academic advisor and camp program coordinator Kijoung Na and SIU professor Jun Kim worked with camp organizers.

Field trips included the Carbondale Splash Park for summer sun and water fun, a guided tour of the transportation department at the Southern Illinois Airport and local shopping accompanied by eating at Carbondale’s local Korean food truck ‘Rice of Korea’.

“I liked the [Morris] Library. It was amazing that there were books from 300 years ago and books from 100 years ago in Korea[n],” student Jisoo Seo said.


The students and their teachers said southern Illinois’ natural beauty and the humbleness of the local people touched each one of their hearts, making the summer camp all the more personal and memorable.

The three teachers that accompanied the middle schoolers from their school in Korea to the summer camp included their school academic counselor Hyejin Lee, their English teacher Cho and their school gym teacher Sangmin Shin.

The group traveled together on a plane ride lasting more than 14 hours over the Pacific Ocean before reaching California, only to go a few hours more to New York for their first few days.

They then hit Chicago and made their way to Carbondale on Amtrak to meet their host families. Each host family took on between two and three students each to stay, rest, eat and play at their homes for the camp’s duration.

For many of these younger students, this was their first time ever leaving their home country. Many of the students bonded and became close with their host families.

The camp will return next summer, only instead of having three teachers and 15 students, Songsan middle school will send 30 to 40 students.

“All the students and guide teachers were satisfied with this camp, especially Professor Tina’s lessons. Students learned how to speak English by engaging in interesting activities. I think everything went as planned,” Cho said.

Only the top graded students who show interest in pursuing and advancing their English skills through the immersion camp program are allowed to attend.

Seo said, “To be honest, my English hasn’t improved much. However, my attitude towards foreigners has improved, and I have become more confident in my English.”

As they say in Korean, “dasi manapsida” (until we meet again).


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