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From Seoul to South Hadley: Korean Scholars Visit Weissman Center for Leadership

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Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives

January 25, 2002, Special Edition

From Seoul to South Hadley: Korean Scholars Visit Weissman Center for Leadership


(from 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 speaking–and writing–intensive courses.

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.

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