Korean Homeland Education (K-HED) is a program in which students actually go to Korea during the summer and immerse themselves in the culture. Anyone is able to join, as long as they have some form of Korean descent. The original program does cost money, but as a result of COVID-19, this year they offered the class online, and completely free of charge!
A few days before the classes began, I took a Korean proficiency quiz to determine what level class I would be placed into. On the first day, I discovered I was in the Advanced Class and began watching the video lectures. There were 50 of these lectures, and they covered Korean grammar, history, and culture. Every Friday my class would meet via Zoom to discuss what we learned from our lessons and practice our Korean speaking skills.
I was initially worried about the Zoom synchronous lessons because I was uneasy with my Korean speaking skills compared to the other students and did not know anyone personally in the program. However, I was surprised by the diversity of people on the call. There were people from all over the world, such as Japan, Canada, Russia, Argentina, and Kyrgyzstan, who were all at least partly Korean. There were people younger than me and some who were older than my grandparents. It was inspiring to see such diverse people so passionate about learning more about their heritage.
Some of my favorite lessons were the culture videos in which the teachers toured various locations in Korea, such as a city called Kongju, in which the program is based, and Seoul, the nation’s capital. Since the program is supported by Kongju National University, the teachers emphasized this city in particular, showing ancient buildings that are still in Kongju today, and encouraging the students to come visit this city once the COVID crisis is over. The recorded videos make it seem like I was walking with the guide on the tour, so it was easy to immerse myself into the lesson and pay more attention to what they were saying as compared to watching the teachers lecture about the cities in front of a whiteboard. The last time I visited Korea was when I was five-years-old and the details of my trip then are very fuzzy. However, through these videos, I was able to form a better idea of what Korea is like today, and intensified my interest in visiting my home country in the future.
Although I was not able to physically visit Korea and participate in the K-HED program in-person, I still believe it was very beneficial. Despite being online, I learned much more than I expected. If you are of Korean descent and want to learn more about your culture, I strongly recommend Korean Homeland Education.