Elementary Students Celebrate Korea and Culture!

By Sara Willetts May 9, 2017

Marcel Proust, a French novelist, observed that "the real voyage of discovery consists not in new lands but in seeing with new eyes." At YISS, some of our students have lived in Korea for many years and feel quite settled, and others have just arrived. No matter what circumstance our students come from, Korea is currently "home." As a result, from mid-April through early-May, elementary students enjoyed a myriad of unique activities and field trips aimed at helping them discover and learn more about Korea and what makes the place in which we live a true delight.

During the special two-week period of celebrating all that is best about Korea, YISS students, new and old, were able to explore Korean culture with new eyes through new experiences and were encouraged in little and big ways to explore new ideas and perspectives. Students played a variety of games, tasted and tried new things, and headed out across the city to explore and learn. We hope this exposure to Korean culture positively impacts how they view the people with whom they interact each day and the culture in which they live.

Kindergarteners were introduced to Korean foods and had the opportunity to make kimbap with some YISS high school students and parent volunteers.

First-graders enjoyed an afternoon of playing traditional Korean games. Both parents and high school students were there to guide and play alongside them. The first-graders also took a field trip to the Lotte World Folk Museum, where they participated in a traditional papermaking craft and explored the large display of thousands of miniatures that depicted Korean life and culture.

Second-graders spent a beautiful morning at the National Museum of Korea, where they learned about traditional Korean art and then painted plates using some of the traditional designs introduced.

The Gyeongbokgung Palace was a fine setting for our third-graders to be given some quiet time to sketch the architecture seen at the palace. Students chose the portions of the palace architecture that struck them most and created their own sketches of it. With the remainder of their time, they wandered the palace learning of its history.

Fourth-graders ventured the furthest to Namhansanseong Provincial Park [UNESCO World Heritage]. After being encouraged to consider how countries and people protect themselves, the students hiked up to the Namhansanseong Fortress, which was originally built 2,000 years ago as an earthen fortress during the Gogureyo period. They learned that because the surrounding mountain area was high and rough, and the fortress was level and low, it was an easy place to defend. Many students climbed to the highest peak, Iljangsan, where they enjoyed a wonderful view of Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi-do.

To learn more about our fifth-graders' Celebrate Korea field trips, you will have to talk to them personally. They designed, in groups of five or six, personalized field trips to the locations that caught their attention and curiosities. With questions about Seoul and Korea in hand, each group headed out with two adult guides to explore Korea and find answers to their questions!

The Celebrate Korea activities and trips are a great opportunity for students to develop a deeper global awareness and understand a part of Korean culture better, which is important for students of Korean heritage and third culture kids alike. The challenging, yet rewarding work of understanding other cultures and how they are similar to our own and also unique brings beauty to how our students view the world and how each of our students engages and contributes to it. We are blessed each year to learn more about Korea, and this year is certainly one to remember and celebrate!

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