25, 2002, Special Edition
Seoul to South Hadley: Korean Scholars Visit Weissman Center for
left) Tamara Burk, director, Speaking, Arguing, and Writing
(SAW) Program, senior lecturer in women's studies; Dr. Chansik
Hong, associate professor, College of Economics and Commerce;
Dr. Yun Young Cho, director, External Cooperation Office;
Dean Moo Seuk Cho, professor of English literature, College
of Liberal Arts, dean of planning affairs; Dr. Kyudok Hong,
associate professor and chair, College of Political Science
and Law; Dr. Kyung Ock Chun, associate professor, College
of Political Science and Law; and Marjorie Kochanowicz,
senior administrative assistant, SAW Program.
A delegation of five
faculty members and administrators from Sookmyung Women's University
(SWU) in Seoul, Korea, traveled halfway around the world last
week to visit the Weissman Center for Leadership (WCL) and observe
the center's Speaking, Arguing, and Writing (SAW) Program in action.
Tamara Burk, director
of SAW and host for the event, explained the delegates' motivation
for their journey from Seoul to South Hadley. "We're doing
similar things on opposite ends of the world," she said,
noting that SWU's stated goal is "cultivating women leaders,
through fostering their gentle power to change the world."
And while Mount Holyoke is the oldest continuing institution of
higher education for women in the United States, Sookmyung Women's
University is Korea's first private college for women, founded
in 1906 by Queen Uhm of the Kojong Empire.
As a national model
for strengthening students' leadership skills, the WCL is accustomed
to the spotlight. "We're truly unique," said Burk. "This
is the only school where the speaking, arguing, and writing program
is connected to a women's leadership initiative. We feel honored
to serve as an internationally recognized model for innovation
in higher education. We see this as an opportunity to exchange
ideas and explore the possibility of collaboration."
The delegates, who
were interested in returning home with the tools to emulate aspects
of the WCL, arrived with a host of questions: What processes were
involved in establishing the center? How do the center's initiatives
and collaborations help to develop students as leaders? What constitutes
a speaking- and writing-intensive course? And, how are WCL programs
linked with the community and world? The visitors were also interested
in exploring the possibility of a faculty-exchange program to
enable scholars from SWU
to study, in depth, the College's approach to teaching speakingand
In preparing for the
visit, Burk had a few questions of her own: "I'm interested
to see how their speaking- and writing-intensive program would
look, how they would adjust SAW, given cultural differences."
She also had some homework. SAW senior administrative assistant
Marjorie Kochanowicz had prepared a few flashcards for Burk, starting
with the phrase pan gop sumnida (pleased to meet you). Acknowledging
Kochanowicz's role, Burk cited her "stellar work in pulling
this visit together with grace and competence."
Over the course of
two snowy midwinter days, the Korean visitors' packed itinerary
included a tour of the WCL facilities at Porter Hall and meetings
with administrators, faculty, and SAW mentors and assistants,
as well as a chance to experience the center's activities firsthand,
as they sat in on Public Relations 101 with instructor Kevin McCaffrey,
associate director of MHC's Office of Communications. By attending
this speaking-intensive course, the delegates had the opportunity
to observe an impressive array of talent, as students, including
Tina Boadi '02 and Audry Longo '05, took to the podium in the
guise of public relations officials in scenarios devised for them
by McCaffrey. They were equally impressed observing another WCL
course, the Global Leadership Forum taught by visiting professor
Pat Sewell, where MHC students debated crimes against humanity
in a simulated global summit.
The Weissman Center's
programs are intended to build a bridge between the College and
the world "beyond the gates," and Burk sees the SWU
visit as a prime example of that part of the center's mission.
The visit was also timely, she says, coinciding with a strengthened
commitment within the center to provide a global perspective as
it prepares the next generation of professional women.