To foster globally talented students, the Office of International Corporation at Yeungnam University provides many programs. The Buddy Program is one of the international exchange programs that helps foreign exchange students with their early and smooth acclimation in a new life in Korea through their understanding of cultural differences and proper behavior in a variety of circumstances. The program is led by Korean students, and each team consists of one foreign student and one Korean student. For this reason, the program attracts students who are devoted to helping foreign friends, rather than focusing solely on self-improvement. The students generally find their participation rewarding. They believe the program is a meaningful experience as it allows both parties to become closer and develop language skills. Therefore, the program is mutually beneficial to both Korean and foreign students.
However, not all the students are positive about the program. Korean students and foreign exchange students sometimes complain because everything is not going smoothly as they expected. Kim Hye-ji, a sophomore of the Department of Chinese Language & Culture, said, “We pay for all the program activities, so there was a burden to process the program.” A Korean student said, “As we cannot afford to travel, we spent most of our time eating meals in front of the school. Although the Buddy Program is generally designed to be one-to-one, the foreign exchange student always takes his friends to meetings.” A foreign exchange student responds, “My buddy does not take care of me as well as others. I want to change my buddy.” Sin Ha-young, who is in charge of the Buddy Program, said that unfortunately, some Korean students give up the program every semester because of the nationality of their partners. Moreover, some foreign exchange students complain to the Office of International Corporation, asking us to change their buddies because of conflicts arising from personality differences and dissatisfaction. Korean students also tend to spend an inordinate amount of their time on reports. “If a foreign exchange student wants to change his or her buddy, we select another Korean student who is more compatible with the candidate. In the worst case scenario, the University Student Ambassador (USA) members act as their buddies,” Sin said. She further commented, “A meeting of participants in the Buddy Program is scheduled at the end of every month, which in this semester consists of eleven members as one team. A member of USA works as a leader on each team to run the meeting and to review the report. In the past, the number of problems has grown as we evaluated the report based solely on the credibility of the students. From now on, we will try to attentively review the report and look into all the claims.”
Finally, she concluded, “The most important thing is their attitude. Regardless of the reasons for their application, they need to act responsibly once they have started the program.”
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