Naju city students wrap up summer program

Thirty Korean middle school students (20 eighth graders and 10 sixth graders) from Naju city have completed their four-week, summer English-as-a-second language (ESL) culture program at Wenatchee Valley College. One female chaperone, an elementary school teacher and English education program coordinator, and one male chaperone from the city offices of Naju accompanied the students.

Naju, South Korea, is a sister city of Wenatchee. Naju city students attend year-round school and used their entire three- to four-week summer vacation to participate in the program.

In addition to class each morning, led by ESL instructors Myra Hoane and Valerie Schneider, their month abroad was filled with afternoon activities and experiences in the Wenatchee Valley and around the region including trips to the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, the Performing Arts Center, an AppleSox baseball game and ice skating at the Town Toyota Center. They also participated in classes and activities led by WVC instructors Juel Iwaasa, music; Ruth Allan, ceramics; and Dr. Ralph Dawes, geology. In addition, three university graduate student counselors were instrumental in the program. From late afternoon through breakfast each day, the counselors guided the Naju students through open gym in the afternoons and through a strict evening schedule of group homework, journaling in English, English games, evening treats and bed time in the residence hall.

The summer program included three day trips to Seattle, the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park near Vantage and the Omak Stampede. Miko Stephens, WVC International Student Coordinator, said the students’ favorite activities were the Seattle trip (including tours of the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, the University of Washington and a trip to an Asian food store for familiar foods), canoeing on the Columbia River guided by the Wenatchee Row and Paddle Club, attending the Sound of Music in Leavenworth and the weekend home stay with host families.

“It makes me happy to see that they are enjoying interacting with American host families and kids of similar ages,” said Stephens. “I am so appreciative of the support from the community. The home stays are a highlight and without their support, we would not be able to offer this view of American home life.”

In addition to many community members, WVC employees Bob Gillespie, Ann Guerrero, Myra Hoane, Dianna Howell and Stephens welcomed students for a weekend homestay.

On an excursion to the Omak Stampede, they enjoyed a festive Thanksgiving dinner at the Breadline Café, the Indian Encampment and the Omak Stampede Rodeo. After a farewell picnic Friday evening at Walla Walla Point Park, the group left for home on Saturday, Aug. 11.

“These types of exchange programs are needed to further our understanding of other cultures and people,” said WVC President Dr. Jim Richardson. “This program is as beneficial for us as it is for the students. We learn so much from one another.”