Multiculturalism

9 September 2016

Tae young Park 201301462 Multiculturalism on HUFS campus Back in 1998, I moved with my parents and my older brother to the Netherlands at the age of 6. The first school day in the Netherlands I will never forget. I went into the class and saw so many kids that were different than me, not only the facial part but they also spoke a different language which I could not understand at all. This was the first time I got exposed to a term called multiculturalism.

The 14 years experience in the Netherlands helped me a lot to understand multiculturalism. I had to deal with a lot of situations where I had to get along with people from different countries and backgrounds. By communicating with them, I could improve my English language and get more knowledge about the cultural differences of societies. Because of the fact that I have already experienced some kind of multiculturalism, it was not difficult for me to choose the subject of this essay assignment for the course.

Multiculturalism Essay Example

Multiculturalism is a really interesting subject to research, especially because the subject is not about the multicultural aspects of societies, but the multiculturalism on our school: the Hanguk University of Foreign studies. According to Wikipedia, the term multiculturalism or ethnic diversity, relates to communities containing multiple cultures (term Multiculturalism on Wikipedia). In this essay though, it is about the diversity of cultures at the HUFS.

Multiculturalism at HUFS can be understood and accepted in different ways, depending on the sort of groups: Korean students, foreign students, Professors and parents. For this essay I interviewed fellow students, professors and parents about their opinion and how they think about the Multiculturalism at the HUFS. Do they see it as a beneficial thing or are there also negative aspects of the multicultural environment at the University of Foreign studies? As well known Korean students are almost giving up everything to their school life.

For them school is not about enjoyment or having a good time with friends, but it is about getting high grades, accomplish top rankings of best graded student, and their ultimate goal is to study at one of the best universities in Seoul called SKY: Seoul national University, Korea University and Yonsei University. These are all universities where only the best graded students of the country can apply for. On the other hand, the HUFS is different to the other universities in Seoul because of their enormous diversity of foreign studies that are available at the university.

These are also the main reasons why there are so many foreign students from all over the world studying at HUFS. Because of the multiple languages and many foreign students, the HUFS is seen as a multicultural university. For the Korean students HUFS can be a quite new environment, because they suddenly get exposed to multiculturalism in their University life which they are not used to. How do Korean students adapt and most important, what do they think about the multiculturalism at the HUFS.

According to one of my friends and fellow student of the DIS called Ki-cheol Joo, he believes that multiculturalism is a huge advantage for Korean students because of the fact that Korean students usually are not exposed to a multicultural environment. He also believes that by being exposed to different languages and cultures at HUFS, Korean students can improve their English language automatically and learn to understand the cultural differences of foreign students.

On the other hand, Son ho Yeon, a second fellow student of DIS had the opinion that he struggled with the unexpected multicultural environment and especially with the enormous increased use of the English language, in which he had struggled with during his high school period. He stated that multiculturalism can have advantages, but for some Korean students this new environment can be awkward and difficult to adapt in. As the opinions of the Korean students show, the opinions about the multiculturalism at HUFS are different.

For some Korean students Multiculturalism can be an advantage in improving their English language and expand their knowledge about different cultures. For other, this new environment can be awkward and therefore hard to adapt in. It just depends on how Korean students individually think about the multiculturalism and if they are interested in getting in touch with new environments or not. The second group that has definitely influence on the multiculturalism at HUFS is the foreign students at the university.

In my own experience, I had some difficulties with adapting to the new environment and Korean culture after the 14 years of experience in the Netherlands. The Korean language sounded awkward and I struggled to get in touch with Korean students because of the cultural differences. Fortunately, I had the huge advantage that I could speak the Korean language fluently. It helped me to adapt a lot faster to the new environment. In contrast, the foreign students at HUFS do not speak the Korean language.

For them, adapting in the new Korean environment is a lot more difficult and awkward. Therefore, the HUFS is a good place to adapt easier because of the multicultural environment. The foreign students get exposed to cultural aspects that they already know from their foreign country. Also the many foreign students that are here at HUFS can help each other to share their equal difficulties and discuss about solutions to solve this problem.

According to one of the foreign students of DIS, called Ronald from South Africa, he stated, ‘’Having many people from all over the world, makes HUFS quite a unique university to study at. To socialize with people from other countries, it gives you the chance to learn more about their culture and background. It has certainly made me more open-minded on how I see different cultures and I’ve realized that I should rather accept other cultures, rather than to criticize. ’’ The foreign student Ronald sees the term multiculturalism in a really positive way.

But there are also some disadvantages of the multiculturalism at HUFS. For example, discrimination of race should not belong in the university life of students, but the reality shows that there is some kind of discrimination of Korean students towards the foreign students. For example, if there is a party with 9 Korean students and 1 foreign student, it is not realistically that the 9 Koreans are going to speak English, which they feel awkward to speak, only because of the fact that the foreign student cannot speak the Korean language.

The Korean students will somehow try to avoid the same complicated situation by not inviting the foreign student. Also if there is group activity homework, it is a lot easier to find teamwork with only Korean students than with a foreign student in the group, if there is a foreign student participating in the group, the Korean students will have to explain and translate everything because the foreign student is not able to speak and understand the Korean language. Also the foreign student has different values and knowledge about the Korean culture which makes teamwork a lot more difficult.

Foreign students at HUFS do have beneficial things about the multiculturalism at the University such as getting involved to the Korean culture and making new international friends, but in their point of view multiculturalism at HUFS can be understood as a separation of two groups: The Korean and non-Korean students, especially because of the fact that there is some kind of discrimination along the students. The third group I am going to talk about in this essay is the professors at HUFS. I interviewed some professors of the DIS that all teach their courses in English.

The Professors of DIS are faced with multiculturalism during their courses due to the diversity of students in the class. Because of the fact of limited knowledge about the role of professors and their point of view, I am going to quote the opinions of professors I interviewed and asked what they think about multiculturalism inside the HUFS. Professor Walcutt of the DIS stated the following opinion about the multiculturalism at HUFS: ‘On one hand, HUFS is very multicultural. Look at the mix of students from 8 different nations that make up our class.

Plus we talk about and use examples from a variety of different places, cultures and economic systems what shows definitely a multicultural overtone. At the same time though, although I mitigate the impact (at least for our classes a bit) through my slight divergences from the Korean way of doing things, HUFS is still very Korean and we tend to do things the Korean way from an organizational or “business” standpoint. These Korean norms are something that more requires us to conform with them rather than them making much of an effort to conform to our needs or cultures. ’

A second Professor of DIS Kattie Lussier had a different opinion about multiculturalism than Professor Walcutt, she stated: ‘For me there is a difference between internationality and multiculturalism. In my view, HUFS is a very international place but it is not multicultural. For HUFS to be multicultural would imply the respect of various cultures and providing opportunities for people to live, following their culture which is not the case at the moment. Multicultural implies that people from various cultures are not only together but are also free to live according to their own values and beliefs.

A couple of months ago at Hanyang University opened a halal food court. This is a sign of multiculturalism. HUFS has some events aimed at showing the different nationalities on campus. Students can try international food and watch performances representing different countries. This can be narrowly interpreted as multiculturalism but if we look deeper than that, we realize that people from different cultures don’t have many interactions with Korean students. The university has many segregation policies.

Korean and International staff have separate meetings (they rarely have opportunities to get together), their offices are in separate buildings, etc. International students rarely have the change to engage in students clubs of students unions. They are not informed of what is happening on campus. This is somehow shocking for me because my previous university was truly multicultural. All these make me say that at the moment HUFS is far from being multicultural but that it does have the potential to become multicultural if people really wanted to.

The opinions of the professors tell us that there is some sort of multiculturalism at HUFS based on many foreign students following their courses and multicultural influence on the Korean students in cultural aspects. On the other hand, the University system as a whole is still very relying on the Korean educational system and the Korean way of doing things. Professor Lussier had strongly the opinion that multiculturalism can only be achieved if the beliefs and values of foreign students can be accepted at the HUFS.

The opinions of the professors clearly show that their opinions are different because their values and believes about multiculturalism are not equal. The HUFS is in my point of view different than other universities in Korea because of the enormous variety of foreign students, teachers and languages that are involved in the University. Therefore the University system should have to pay more attention in international way of thinking and sharing the ideas of foreign teachers. The last group I am going to talk about is the parents.

Parents are different groups compared to the previous groups of teachers and students. In some way parents are related to the previous groups because they decide and support the decisions that their children have to make. On the other hand, parents have limited knowledge about how multiculturalism inside the HUFS is taking place because they do not participate at the university life at HUFS. Parents of children at HUFS can only express their opinion based on sources about multiculturalism due to their children and their own knowledge of how they see multiculturalism at HUFS. Do parents see multiculturalism as a beneficial thing or more as an obstacle for their children? For this part I interviewed my own parents of what they think about multiculturalism at HUFS. The reason that I interviewed my own parents is because they both have experience about multiculturalism due to the period they both lived in the Netherlands. According to my father, he stated that multiculturalism at HUFS is a beneficial thing. He believes that, in today’s world it is not only important for individuals to accomplish national success. But international success and ideas have become also a main theme in today’s society.

Therefore my father claims that it is very important for the development of students at HUFS to experience the multicultural life. My dad believes that because of the many foreign students and multiple languages at HUFS, Korean students can experience and improve their international skills and knowledge for their future. On the other hand, my mother believes that multiculturalism at HUFS can cause difficulties for Korean students. She stated that the communication part can be a struggle for Korean and non Korean students, because there will be a limit on the communication part between the two groups related to their English language ability.

My mother also thinks that understanding multiple cultures can be difficult. To understand a different culture you need a long term process of getting involved with different cultures and people to broaden the knowledge about their culture. On the short term process, cultural understanding can cause problems and conflicts between Korean and non Korean students. As the opinions of my parents clarify, the understanding of multiculturalism of parents is different and interesting. Korean parents mostly giving up everything and invest all the money to their children to study at one of the top universities in Seoul.

In one way parents see multiculturalism at HUFS as a beneficial thing for their children because they can improve their language and increase their knowledge about the international aspects by getting involved in a multicultural environment during their university life at HUFS. On the contrast, many parents see multiculturalism as an unfair process based on the equality between Korean and foreign students. Children of Korean parents had to put in all the efforts, their time to study and get the highest possible grades, to apply for a university such as HUFS.

On the contrast, foreign students at HUFS can apply for the university based on their experience and period lived in a foreign country, not on their educational skills. The main critique though of Korean parents about multiculturalism at HUFS is that, because of the increased admittance of foreign students at HUFS, the places available for Korean student decreases. Also Korean students now have to compete against each other more and more to earn a place at the HUFS because of the many foreign students that have taken in their places.

So what we can see is that although parents see multiculturalism at HUFS as a beneficial thing for their children to improve their international skills, there are disadvantages such as reducing places for Korean students, communication difficulties and cultural differences between Korean and non Korean students. To sum up the opinions of the different groups, multiculturalism at HUFS can be understood in different ways, depending on the four groups I talked about in this essay. There are many benefits according to the four groups.

Korean students see multiculturalism as an opportunity to improve their English language and expanding their cultural knowledge. For foreign students, multiculturalism is a way to make Korean friends and a chance to adapt easier in this new Korean culture. Professors at HUFS think that multiculturalism is a beneficial thing because professors will get to know different cultures due to the multicultural students in their courses. Finally, parents see multiculturalism at HUFS as a way for their children to improve themselves individually to a more international way of thinking rather than in the Korean way.

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages of multiculturalism at HUFS according to the four groups. Korean students find it difficult to adapt in the new multicultural environment, which they are not used to and also struggle with the increased use of the English language due to the many foreign students in their vicinity. Some foreign students think that multiculturalism at HUFS separate the Korean students and the non Korean students because of discrimination and not accepting the mix of two groups during the university life. Professors especially see the disadvantages in how the educational system at HUFS functions.

For them, the whole educational system is too much orientated in a Korean way and therefore does not acknowledge the opinions of the foreign professors at HUFS. Finally, parents feel that multiculturalism at HUFS is an unfair aspect for their children due to the many foreign students applying for the university. Because of the increased registration and acceptance of foreign students, the acceptance of Korean students for HUFS decreases and they have to compete against each other to earn a spot at the university, which is very unfair in the view of Korean parents.

In conclusion, multiculturalism at HUFS is understood in both positive as negative ways, depending on the sort of group and their way of understanding multiculturalism. It is impossible for these groups to understand the term multiculturalism in the same way because people individually have their own values, knowledge and believes about different things and this will not change as the time goes by.

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