Local middle school students part of exchange program through MSU
Middle school students from Lansing and South Korea are swapping cities to understand and respect other cultures.
“This program provides a learning experience that books and lectures don’t provide,” Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, or RCAH faculty member Joanna Bosse said. “Learning in a diverse community is an inherently valuable thing. It causes us to examine our values and not take anything for granted.”
The Asan Greater Lansing Youth Exchange Program runs from July 5 to Aug. 9 and consists of two phases. From July 5-14, Lansing students will travel to Asan, South Korea, and then from July 19 to Aug. 9, students from Asan will travel to MSU.
While at MSU, RCAH hosts the learning framework for the Asan students, and undergraduates within the college lead the program day to day, RCAH faculty member Vincent Delgado said.
“The RCAH students will serve as leaders and role models at an international level,” Delgado said. “They’re learning the responsibility and ability to be the types of leaders envisioning the change we need in these communities.”
The program also is a citywide collaboration within the Lansing area: the Lansing Regional Sister Cities Commission is guiding the program, RCAH staff is structuring the program, RCAH students lead the MSU leg, and the Asan students will work with Edgewood Scholars, who Lansing-area youths commended for their studies.
The exchange students sleep in the dorms, study English from 9 a.m. to noon, then join the Edgewood scholars for lunch and other activities.
“They’re thinking about what the arts and humanities can do with the issues of social justice and how to make a better world,” Bosse said.
Bosse also said the priorities of learning are three-fold: leadership and politics, narrative and story-telling and stewardship of the environment. The students travel to landfills, recycling centers, museums, zoos and the Capitol to learn through coursework and lessons.
“Through exposure to other foods, cultures and languages, we gain respect, understanding and education, so that we may all mingle, study and live on this Earth for the better,” program coordinator Won Song said. “The world is getting smaller and we are accelerating the process in a positive manner.”
Song said while she was on MSU’s campus she overheard students call the increasing number of Chinese students.
“If we had been exposed at a younger age, we would have a blending and harmony, so natural that you wouldn’t notice these changes,” she said.