The United States Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Mark W. Lippert, visited KNUE to attend a roundtable meeting on the future of Korea-U.S.A. education with about 30 undergraduate students on September 2nd.
Ambassador Lippert held talks with students about education and culture of and between the U.S.A. and South Korea in the conference room of the Administrative Building, after talking with Dr. Lew Hee-chan, the president of KNUE. The talk was carried out for about one and a half hours with the ambassador responding to questions submitted by students as pre-service teachers. Ambassador Lippert said that he wanted to have a comfortable time communicating with college students, especially pre-service teachers, in response to the question as to why he was visiting KNUE.
As the first discussion topic was to be picked, students chose the “spoon class theory,” as it is recently emerging in South Korea, which classifies individuals based on the assets they inherited from their parents. The main question about it was how the United States is responding to the phenomenon that parents’ socioeconomic status is being passed down to their children. Ambassador Lippert agreed that the U.S.A. is also encountering the same problem and students living in more affluent towns tend to go to good schools, which ultimately solidifies the hierarchy. He suggested that both the U.S.A. and South Korea should resolve this problem through the politics based on the democratic process.
While talking about some education issues that both countries have, one student questioned the reason for U.S. President Barack Obama’s extreme praise for the Korean education system, which has been criticized for being excessively academic-oriented. As a personal opinion, Ambassador Lippert guessed that the driving force for South Korea to make rapid progress and achieve economic progress was attributed to education and president Obama was impressed by that part.
In addition to the in-depth discussion about education, some personal questions and answers about the ambassador were exchanged. A question about baseball was thrown at him as he has been known to visit ballparks in South Korea frequently. Lippert, who said he was deeply impressed by the Korean cheering culture, said in particular that it is interesting to enjoy all kinds of food in the stadium.
With this meeting, which continued over the scheduled time, students showed satisfaction. Cha Su-min, a senior majoring in English education, said “I was moved by Ambassador Lippert who sincerely answered and asked again in accordance with college students’ level.” He went on to say, “It was a precious time to learn about American culture and to sympathize with it.”
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