Friday, July 18, 2014

Oh, What an Experience!!

The School-based Agricultural Education Across the Globe program is history for 2014. And oh, what an experience it was!

Eight undergraduate and eight graduate students from the University of Florida and Penn State University and four faculty from UF and PSU began the journey with a 10-week course during Spring 2014, providing essential background in preparation for the in-country experience. Then 28 days in the Republic of Korea provided the culmination to a learning adventure that was a huge success.

Interactions with counterparts at Seoul National University, Suncheon National University, and Gwang-ju National University of Education provided the central focus of the study abroad portion of the program. Programs and activities related to Korean heritage and culture and "seeing the sights" brought a greater understanding to all we had learned about Korean agricultural education as well as US school-based agricultural education programs.

What did we bring home?

First, we know a lot more about Korea, from the ancient dynasties to post-war reconstruction into a major economic and cultural center. We learned about the various ways that agriculture teachers in Korea receive preparation to become teachers, including Practical Arts teachers in the elementary schools. We discovered a variety of delivery mechanisms for agriscience education, including comprehensive high schools that offer a variety of agriculture programs, Meister schools that are heavily supported by industry to provide training in a specific field, and vocational-technical schools that operate their own agriculture enterprises in a self-management scheme. We heard about and witnessed the pressures and concerns regarding production agriculture in a country with relatively little available land and lots of people to feed. And we interacted with education leaders who described the goals of public education within the new administration. And we brought home a lot of souvenirs!

But international activity is more than what we received. What did we leave behind?

In working with undergraduate students at Seoul National University, we left behind a group of students who have experience in teaching high school classes, from preparing micro-lessons to delivering instruction. We left behind teaching activities that high school teachers can use in their classrooms in Korea. Hopefully we left behind a better understanding of US school-based agricultural education and appreciation for the positive relationships between the two countries. And we may have left behind some students and teachers who will come to the US for additional education.

From sharing meals with new friends (Korean barbecue, kimchi, pizza and chicken . . . the list goes on) to lunch with a university president and the Vice Minister of Education, every activity was a learning and growing experience for all. We look forward to hosting some Korean teachers and students at our universities, as we have already begun plans for 2016!

We owe a lot of thanks to all who hosted us, especially the students, faculty and administration of Seoul National University.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing Kirby! It was a joy and pleasure to collaborate! As always!