Monday, June 30, 2014

The adventure continues..

We hosted SNU students in the Spring 2013.

We traveled to the Republic of Korea again in the Summer of 2014. Follow those adventures at this blog:

The Twitter Hashtag is #AgEd2Korea

Monday, June 11, 2012

Geopolitical Issues and its' Impact on the Korean Education System

The "Blue House" 
Geopolitical issues play an immense role in the Korean education system as their curriculumn is regulated by the governemnt, their federal government. Young citizens are charged with the task of being the "Cream of the Crop". The academic career of the youth are rigourous, demanding and fill of test. Their are a series of exit examiantions that determine how students will advance educationally. Their challenges and task explains why the student population is so responsible and disciplined when it comes to their education.

About 20% of a familys' income goes into their childrens education.  This is exteremly different from the education system in the U.S.A. We have a free public school sytems whos curriculumn is regulated by the states and districts. We, Americans can learn a lot from the Korean school system and in turn, South Korea can learn a lot form ours. It takes experiences like this which provide students the ability to cross train, learn and teach to make those necessary changes and build great partnerships.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

There and Back Again: A US Ag Ed Experience to Korea

In what seemed like a blink of an eye, we flew half way around the world, experienced Korean ag education, and made it back home safely!  As we all try to recover from jet lag, I can't help but to sit back and think about this amazing experience we just had in South Korea!  We met some amazing students from Seoul National University, we had the opportunity to teach in a Korean high school, and immerse ourselves in a culture very different from ours.  While we all know how great this trip was, I still get the question, "Why did you travel all the way to Korea?"  Luckily, the answer to this question is simple; global citizenship.  Going into this experience, we all knew it would be a fun trip but we never knew we all would come home as global citizens.  The term global citizen has different meanings depending on who you talk to but for me this term describes a person who embraces our worlds diversity and works to interact with everyone in an attempt to learn from and teach others.

After mingling with my peers and working collaboratively for the duration of the trip, I am confident that we all have developed a new mindset that we all need to work together, regardless of culture, country, or location.  We all have problems in our countries and in our world but likewise have aspects of our cultures that help us stand out.  Working with the SNU students helped us realize that working with other cultures is enjoyed and beneficial.  As global citizens, we now have this new idea of how important it is to incorporate all of these international aspects and experiences into our teaching so we can begin molding this notion into future agriculturalist.  Even though the trip is over, we all will be presenting our experiences and attempting to plant the seed of global citizenship in the minds of all.

I hope you enjoyed our blog and may YOU always be mindful of being a global citizen!


Friday, June 8, 2012

In-sadong Street - Traditional Korean Shopping

One of our shopping destinations was to In-sadong Street.  In-sadong street is known for being a traditional Korean shopping.  Here you are able to purchase authentic gifts and souvenior for your self and your family. Some of the things you are able to purchase are fans, slippers, jewelry, shoes, cell phone accessories, t-shirts, and crafts.

One of the crafts you could buy are the Korean traditional wooden masks. These were worn in war by soldiers and horses, ceremonially, for burial rites in jade and bronze and for shamanistic ceremonies to drive away evil spirits; to remember the faces of great historical figures in death masks; and in the arts, particularly in ritual dances, courtly, and theatrical plays.

Lots of students were able to purchase gifts for themselves and for family members.  The traditional gifts will truly help us all remember the Korean culture and have something to remember the trip by.


Dr. Naa Speaks About SNU

We had a wonderful presentation by Dr. Naa who runs the agricultural education department at Seoul National University. He showed us the many highlights of his program and the wonderful achievements of the students.It was interesting to see how many things SNU's program and PSU's program have in common. It is exciting to know that we will have teacher contacts in Seoul, South Korea that we can always call upon for help, guidance or support. I hope that this overseas trip will be something that PSU offers regularly. Dr. Naa is a great asset to us and has played a crucial part in the success of this trip.

Korean secondary school students compared to U.S. students

Today, we had the opportunity to attend Yeoju Agricultural High School. We were shown their incredible facilities and meet with several faculty members. The most substantial part of the trip to the school was the chance to observe students. The students were simply normal. They laugh, they joke and are respectful to each other. The one big difference we experienced or noticed was how serious they take school.

During our visiting today, we did not see as many students as we would if it was a different day. It was national college entrance exam day so many were busy testing. The students spend a lot of time preparing for this exam, more than it seems American students do. This is one difference we found between students in Korea and the students in United States.

Yeoju Self Management Agricultural High School

As we are moving along on our awesome trip in Korea, we had the privilege to view another Agricultural High School. This one was different from Suwon which we visited earlier in the week, but it was still very impressive. This high school was self sustaining, and they had many fields, livestock, and green houses to help support the school. This school had a great amount of land, around 99 hectares. We had to ride a bus over the whole campus! I enjoyed the time there and I was able to reminisce my old high school days when we ate lunch in the school cafeteria.  In the picture above I had a teacher moment telling others about growing the plants using the cutting method. I guess we learn something new everyday. 

Until Next Time,


Thursday, June 7, 2012

US Ag Ed Living it Up in Gyeonegbokgung Palace!

When you ask any Korean what place you need to see before you leave the country, one of the top sights they suggest is Gyeongbokgung Palace.  On Wednesday, we had the chance to visit this awesome palace!  This palace was demolished during Japan's reign over Korea but today, it is an accurate replica of the palace back in its time.  We saw where the Korean alphabet was develop and had the chance to see how the kings and queens of ancient times lived!  The sights were beautiful and this place will not easily be forgotten!

Keep following our trip!!  

South Korean education

Testing is one of the biggest issues that South Koreans face. Their entire lives are dedicated to studying and getting into a good college. School days begin in the morning and end in the afternoon, very much like our own school days in the United States. Instead of playing a sport after school or practicing their instruments, however, South Korean students attend supplemental schooling that prepares them for the entrance exams to get into college.

For six days of the week, these students study in the hopes of scoring high enough on the university entrance exams to get into a good college. Many students take the tests, which are comparable to the SAT. In fact, other Korean students who are not yet old enough to take these exams gather at the testing facility to cheer the students on and wish them luck. 

The unfortunate side of this issue is that these tests are so stressful for students that they feel that if they do not do well on the exams, they need to kill themselves. These exams cause more students to commit suicide year after year. These students would rather die than fail these exams or get into a bad college. The level of pressure that the students are under is unreal. However, this kind of pressure is acceptable. South Koreans believe that to have a good brain is very important and value education highly and that acceptance to a good school opens doors to the rest of their future.    

Fit for a KING....

It's not all the time that you're presented with the opportunity to be a king for one day. After hearing about South Korea's rich history, their kings' and noblemen, passing this opportunity up was not an option. Just above the Kings Museum was a small booth fitted with robes and crowns. A small booth maned by two elderly women who were willing to dress any and everyone up. What was the cost, free! What was the catch, to have your picture taken by and with local citizens. You can tell from the pictures taken that we had a blast. It was a great feeling and above all else, an honor to be KING!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Professional organizations in Korea and U.S.

We had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the FFK (Future Farmers of Korea) and the KAEA (Korea Agriculture Education Association). There were similaraties and differences between the United States Counterparts (FFA and NAAE).

One major difference that I noticed was that their organizations got alot more government funding than the united states organizations. Most of our organizations rely on their own funds, but the KAEA gets alot of support from the government.

Another difference between the NAAE and the KAEA is that most of the agriculture teachers (almost 100%) in Korea belong to the KAEA, while the NAAE does not have as high of a percentage of membership. Something that is similar in the organizations is the the members pay dues and attend professional meetings.

A little 'slice' of home

During our lunch break today at Seoul National University, our guide Ren took us to a little restaurant right on campus beside the agriculture building. He said that the fried chicken and pizza there was amazing, so naturally, EVERYONE had some! It was a great way to bond among the group and catch up on the events of the day. A little taste of home was just what we all needed to keep us going strong for a few more days.

It was nice to walk around and see some of campus during an informal lunch tour. We even visited the SNU equivalent of the Penn State HUB, where we tasted rainwater for research. Johnathon and Brittany got to be interviewed on SNU TV about their rainwater taste test results. Where ever we go, fun and excitement always seem to find us!

On our way back, Todd, Ashley and I happen to stumble upon some Snyder's of Hanover pretzels. Can you believe it! A Pennsylvania product in Seoul! Naturally, we all bought a bag.

We are having an AMAZING time here! Can't wait to keep sharing our experiences!

You Did What? Well, We Went To a Buddhist Temple

Hello again!

If you didn't already realize, we stopped at the Jogye Buddhist Temple on our tour of Seoul. I thought it was truly a beautiful sight to see. Being in the presence of people who are devoted Buddhists and being able to see them pray was awesome. At first many were reluctant to enter because we didn't want to disturb anyone, but since this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of us, the temptation took over and we all strolled inside. It was breathtaking.

Jessica Shilladay was shown how to pray at the temple. I thought the fact someone took the time to show her was so cool. As I was leaving, a woman came up to me, smiled, bowed, and said 'Welcome'. Inviting us into their temple and a stranger telling me welcome just made the experience that much greater. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Jogye Buddhist Temple today and seeing something that I've never seen before was amazing.

Can't wait to update next time! See you later!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Suwan Agriculture High School Tour

Today we took a tour of Suwan Agriculture and Science High School. The school has a major focus on horticulture, which is the aspect we saw most of on our tour. The campus was beautiful, with sculpted trees and gardens throughout the school. We walked through several greenhouses, each of which had its own separate climate tempered to the plants growing in them.

It was so interesting to see a small desert growing in a greenhouse in Korea! All of the landscaping in the greenhouses was done by the students, as well as the care and maintenance of the plants. There were ornamental plants, like a whole greenhouse full of different varieties of orchids! There were also greenhouses full of vegetables, like eggplant, squash, lettuce, cabbage, peppers, and an assortment of other plants. My favorite greenhouse was the one full of bonsai plants! The plants were so beautifully and artfully designed, and I wanted to take a picture of every single one of them!

FFK & KAEA: A world away, but not much different!

Wow, what a day! Getting to teach in a high school halfway around the world was AMAZING. Learning about what FFK and KAEA (Korean Agricultural Educators Association) really are and how the organizations actually work was a great.

Korea 174 by TeachAgPSU
 We learned that FFK is required for all students in Ag high schools in south Korea and that FFK provides many of the same types of events to Korean Members as FFA does to American ones. FFK is a lot like FFA in the fact that they host competitions for students to be involved in, elect national officers and require Ag Ed to be a member of FFK. We also got to check out NAEA which provides some of the same resources to teachers as NAAE (National Association of Agricultural Educators (USA)). One major difference was that a first year teacher can not be a member of KAEA, which means they do not have all the same opportunities as American NAAE members, because first year teachers with NAAE are well looked after and helped as much as possible to ensure they stay with the profession and that their first year of service is as easy as possible.

With getting a chance to see exactly what these two organizations have to offer to Korean Agricultural Education it is no wonder that Korean Ag Ed is so advanced and so alive. There might just be 74 FFA Chapter and Ag Schools but for those who are at the Ag Schools they are doing an amazing job educating  Korean Students about Agricultural Education.

Excited for another wonderful day,

Not All That Different

Hello Again!

Sometimes when we look at other parts of the world, we see a completely different background. Whether it be a different ethnicity, culture, nationality, etc., we can't help but see something different. I have done that myself and to be honest, I still do that. Coming to Korea, I've seen similarities and differences. However, it was surprising to see similarities within our Ag Education system. Between the US and Korea, we have a very similar organization. The US has the FFA (Future Farmers of America) and South Korea has the FFK (Future Farmers of Korea).

Our school systems have similarities. When we went to Suwon High School, they seemed like regular high school kids. In my mind, I thought they would be to themselves and not interactive. However, being there and teaching I saw a different light. I was proven wrong and that's okay. Another similarity that I saw is that they have hands on learning, labs, greenhouses, ect. I loved seeing that.

However, I did see differences. I felt the students were more disciplined but in a good way. They had a good understanding of what the expectations were and kept themselves under control. Their value for education, I felt exceeded the US's. I'm  not saying US students don't value education but many don't take education seriously. Throughout a Korean student's life, they value and take it seriously.

The experience here has been amazing so far and I can't wait to update later!


Down to Business

Our second day of interacting with our SNU counterparts marked a significant change in the status of our relationship. The first time we met SNU students they were extremely eager to please us, so much so that they provided us with only the answers that they thought we wanted to hear. During our second meeting, after a day spent fostering our relationships, our counterparts were eager to share in group discussion, provide constructive feedback, and help us take our micro-teaching units to the next level. However, our conversations pertaining to the next day's business quickly faded into personal conversations about life and cultural variations among Koreans and Americans.... We talked about everything from the ultimate road trip to 4-H and everything in between. We even had some scholarly conversations about stereotypes in agricultural education. The most important aspect unveiled at this workshop was that among all the superficial differences between American and Korean students, we are all the same. We have the same goals, dreams, and abilities as people and as future agricultural educators even if they are seemingly different at first.

Monday, June 4, 2012

School Based Ag Education

Today we were at SNU and got the opportunity to hear Dr.Na speak about school based agriculture education in Korea.

Later on we heard this from the students perspective and then a presentation from our American students was given on U.S agriculture education. I knew that the Korean system was based off of ours from hearing Dr. Na speak last year in September to the Ag Ed students in Gainesville. The systems are vary similar but have a few noticeable differences. I feel that FFK isn't as prominent in the schools. They are all members of FFK, but it does no seem to be as much an essential part of the program. I also find it interesting that none of the students that attend SNU were involved in agriculture prior to joining their department. In the U.S, most students took agriculture classes which inspired them to want to be agriscience teachers. The SNU students also only student teach for 4 weeks, which is way different than our 12 week student teaching experience. The SNU classes seem less interactive than ones taught in America. Overall, I feel like the experience of going to SNU and being able to learn about the differences and similarities of our program to theirs is why we all came here. Hopefully we can find things we enjoy about each others program and take it back with us!

Agricultural Education-A Universal Language

Today was our second day of interacting with SNU students and our first opportunity to present the structure of school based agricultural education in the US. Myself, Doug, Matt, Britney, and Sarah gave a presentation of the Three Circle Model and how we use agricultural education to teach high school and middle school students the skills they need for future success. What an incredible experience! Being able to have comprehensive conversations with students about a topic we both had interest in seemed to break down the previous communication barrier. The conversation and knowledge was floating like never before!
It truly in breathtaking to see the impact agricultural education can have on students who live across the world from one another. It leaves me thinking, how could other nations be influenced with school based agricultural education? These are the questions that make me want to make a difference as an ag teacher!
I think its easy to say this has been one of the most informative and engaging days of the trip, and I cant wait to see what else is in store!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It's the small things that count...

One of the GREATEST joys of international travel is the opportunity to meet and interact with people that do not look and talk like you, and speak a universal language. I happen to spot this elderly gentlemen prior to our departure from lunch. He seemed to have been a day laborer wondering the streets for scrapped metal, boxes and wood. What was so fascinating about him was his eagerness, ability and keen sense. His bike was full of scraped objects and as I went to take a picture of this handsome fellow, his belongings began to fall to the grown. What's interesting about this situation is the fact that he didn't mind me snapping away at him, but he sure did give me a hard time when I attempted to assist him with retrieving his belongings. Needless to say, it felt good to help an elderly gentlemen retrieve his belongings. It's not everyday that you're provided the opportunity to assist an individual in a foreign country. It's the small acts of courteousness that are self fulfilling, and mean the most......!

: Jonathan