The Dandy Program was designed to foster intercultural understanding by pairing Dankook University (DKU) students with foreign exchange students on a one-on-one basis. Through this program, students have an opportunity to improve their foreign language skills and international knowledge. Moreover, participants can learn more about their twinned universities. We first introduced the Buddy program to our readers last month. This time The Dankook Herald (DKH) had the opportunity to follow program participants for a day and gain insight into how this innovative initiative is positively impacting the DKU campus community.
On April 6, reporters Kim and Yoon met exchange student A'dilah (Junior, Dept. of Korean Language and Literature) from Brunei and her program buddy local Dankookian (Student of DKU) Mr. Park (Senior, Dept. of Fashion Merchandise Design) at Peace Square in Jukjeon Campus. The two have been paired up under the Dandy Program. Mr. Park said, “I can’t speak English well, but I don’t have a problem communicating with A'dilah.” The biggest reason this is possible is that they both use short and simple words to communicate. Despite the challenges, the pair manage to create a harmonious environment through positive and passionate communication, rather than awkward unnatural exchanges. The pair spend the day on a campus tour. and while passing by Waterfall Park, they came across a Damda Student Council event, where members were handing out free merchandise. It was A'dilah’s first time seeing free giveaways on campus and she was amazed by it. After picking up a few complimentary gifts, the pair moved on to the Arts Hall building where Mr. Park has his major courses. On the third floor of the building, there are several pictures drawn by Dankookians. The hallway is filled with vivid and rich artwork of various colors. Mr. Park explained all the pictures to A'dilah and let her take photographs while admiring Korean traditional artwork such as Hangeul and Hanbok. We went inside an empty lecture room to have a more personal exchange. The moment we sat down, A'dilah explained how to introduce ourselves in her own language. For example, ‘My name is Yoon Hee-won.’ is ‘Nama Saya Yoon Hee-won.’ in Malay. Then she taught us how to count to three, “One is Satu, two is Dua, and three is Tiga.” We learned many other words and expressions used in everyday life. It turned out to be an informative and unexpected class. After learning a bit of Malay, the conversation shifted to the cultural differences they experienced during their first meeting. Mr. Park had reached out his hand for a handshake to greet her, but A'dilah refused the handshake and just waved her hand. He was embarrassed by the unexpected response, but it turned out that in Brunei it is customary not to touch strangers. This experience helped them quickly realize the existence of cultural differences. Another notable difference in culture is that Bruneians generally follow Islam, so it is customary for A'dilah to fast during Ramadan. During this period, Islamic followers fast during daylight to experience the hunger of the poor and test their faith in God. This year's Ramadan period overlapped with our meeting, and although it was regrettable that we couldn't share a meal together, we also felt a deep respect for the willpower required to fast for a whole month. Toward the end of the day, we gave each other local names. A'dilah was given the Korean name ‘Ji-hye,’ reporter Yoon received the English name ‘Crystal,’ and reporter Kim received the English name ‘Hazel.’ After this meeting, Mr. Park said that it was the most memorable day he had spent with his buddy. "I am grateful my buddy A'dilah always has a deep interest in learning about Korean culture. It makes this activity feel very rewarding and precious to me.” A'dilah thought this buddy program was eye-opening for students who travel abroad. She said, “I feel that we had created a social bond and trust with each other as if we have already been friends for a long time.”
|▲ Buddies Giving Each Other Names (Photo from the Dankook Herald)|
On April 8, DKH reporters met three other Buddies and their assigned exchange students. The meeting took place in the spring when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, and it was the first time that all the groups were hanging out together. They decided to go on a picnic along the Han River Park in Yeouido to try some Korean traditional food. First, we went for a Korean BBQ for lunch. Barbecuing the meat helped us break the ice and feel more comfortable talking to each other. The grilling created a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere and gave us something easy to start talking about. While having lunch, Mr. Ha (Senior, School of Urban Planning and Real Estate) said that, when he went to Norway as an exchange student, he felt so thankful for people who treated him nicely. So, he wanted to help the exchange students at DKU and requite his experience abroad. After the meal, the group went on a picnic near the Han River. There were cherry blossoms everywhere and all the participants loved it. Exchange student, Patri (Junior, Dept. of Architecture and Design) said that many people brought their tents and camped in front of the river, which she described as a nice cultural contrast that she rarely witnessed in Spain. Other exchange students were also interested in the picnic culture. After the picnic, and to warm up, we had traditional Korean pancakes with Makgeolli, a traditional Korean liquor. The exchange students found Korean pancakes to be mild and not too different from their own cuisine. They enjoyed trying Korean food. By the end of the day, the buddies had become more comfortable speaking in English and the atmosphere was so relaxed. Leaving the restaurant the group took a picture together in a photo booth. Calling it a day, Shin Seung-won (Senior, School of Performance Film) said if they have time again soon, she would like to meet the group again and show them more Korean culture. The exchange students also said that it was wonderful to get to know each other and learn new things. Alina (Junior, Dept. of Korean Language and Literature) from Russia said they made new friends and enjoyed the various activities they did with the Dandy program. The DKH reporters agreed that the experience was a priceless opportunity. They got to meet and hang out with exchange students and had a lively time covering the program and introducing it to our readers.
|▲ Group Photo of Buddies at Han River Park (Photo from the Dankook Herald)|
The DKH covered various buddy teams and their activities in the DIA program. Our reporters said they learned a lot about the program participants while covering the story. Every Korean buddy said it was a more meaningful activity because they improved their communication skills and learned more about foreign cultures. By covering this story and participating in the program, they learned how meaningful the experience is for participants. The buddy program will continue throughout the semester, and we sincerely hope all participants will have a wonderful time.
황인경, 김주연, 윤희원, 정영훈, 김재훈, 김영준 firstname.lastname@example.org