Former South Korean exchange student ‘at home’ with McKim Family in Lanesville PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 08 July 2009 00:00
    Jin-Hee Jung, an exchange student at Lanesville High School during the 2006-07 school year, has returned to the same community that welcomed her just two years ago, the community of Lanesville, in Franklin Township in Eastern Harrison County. This time around, she is studying full time at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany.
    She is also staying with a family she stayed with part of the year that year, the Denzil McKim Family.
    “Two years ago, I wanted to experience something new, so I joined the exchange student program in the USA,” said Jin-Hee. “I went to Lanesville High School as an exchange student for 06-07. It was successful, (and) I learned many other things about life other than study.”
    Jin-Hee has had positive feelings towards the United States, and for her it goes back to the Korean War. General Douglas MacArthur for a time led the American forces in the 1950-53 war, and to her, MacArthur is a hero of the Korean War.
    “I think the USA is a very good friend of my country, South Korea,” Jin-Hee said. “In history, Douglas MacArthur was the hero of the Korean War. Every South Korean knows that. Still today, (the) US Army helps to guard from North Korea. Also, my country and (the) USA are good economic partners. I feel good when I see my country’s products here (i.e. Samsung, Kia, and Hyundai).”
    She added, “Generally, I felt friendly about the USA even before I joined the exchange student program, because I’ve heard about the USA a lot. While I was growing up, I was curious about the country that tries to keep world peace, (and is) one of the strongest countries in the world.”
    When she was at Lanesville High School two years ago, Jin-Hee decided to get involved in school life in order to make friends, and learn more about high school life in this part of the country.
    One thing she did was to become a student manager for the girls’ basketball team.
    Despite a language barrier, she wanted to make friends. So, she thought if she could spend time doing something where the language barrier would be less of an issue, she could make more friends. She became a manager under Lanesville head coach Bill Krammes, who was then in his first year as head coach of the girls’ program.
    She then became a manager for the girls’ team, working alongside fellow student manager Amber Law.
    It turns out that Jin-Hee was correct about being able to more easily make friends with other students at Lanesville after becoming a girls’ basketball manager.
    “They started being interested (in) me,” explained Jin-Hee. “They asked me what they were curious about, and I asked them what I wondered about.”
    “What I liked most about being a basketball team manager was to go to away games,” said Jin-Hee. “I could visit many different schools in Southern Indiana. It was trips for me to travel around Southern Indiana.”
    Jin-Hee also enjoyed another game day custom, while a manager at Lanesville. The girls’ basketball team members would eat sandwiches and have a shake since they ended up missing having dinner at home. As Jin-Hee put it, it was more than just the taste of the shakes she remembers, it was the fellowship with the players she remembers.
    “I appreciate Coach Krammes, who always encouraged players that accepted a foreign exchange student being part of a team,” she said.
    While an exchange student at Lanesville, Jin-Hee was also part of the school’s choir, having taken choir class.
    “I like to sing, and I think I can sing, so I took choir class,” she said. She experienced many “jazz type religious songs” in her words, and she said she loved the sound of them. It was a “sound I never experienced in my country.”
    She said that every time Lanesville had a home basketball game, the school choir sang the Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem. Jin-Hee said she found singing another country’s national anthem a little intimidating, in front of so many spectators.
    Still, she thought that she was able to add to the sound of the choir, and added that when she sang with the school choir, her voice blended in with all of the other members to create a singular voice.
    Her favorite memory of singing with the choir occurred during the Christmas season of 2007, when they appeared on local Channel 3 (WAVE-TV) where they sang two Christmas carols.
    “All choir class members were on TV,” remembered Jin-Hee. “I was thrilled watching myself on TV, even though it’s just a couple of seconds, but it meant a lot to me. I’d never be on TV in my country.”
    Jin-Hee said she felt more and more a part of the scene at Lanesville High School, and she even was named Student of the Month once during the 2006-07 year.
    The language barrier remained the most difficult thing she had to deal with at that time. She said that her teachers would often work with her to help her better understand anything she didn’t understand in the lessons.
    She also continued to be involved in as many school activities as possible. She was always trying new things.
    “What I wanted was new experiences,” she explained. She said being picked Student of the Month was a very positive experience as well. “I felt very honored and thought ‘I can tell my exchange student year is successful,’ “said Jin-Hee.
    And she will not forget the Lanesville boys’ basketball team going to the Final Four in Class A, where they played in the 8,000 seat gymnasium at Seymour High School.
    “People kept talking about it just like we talk about the Kentucky Derby,” Jin-Hee said. “It was interesting to see some Lanesville High School girls dressed up like the 80s for cheering the boys’ team. The funny thing about it is that most were (girls’) basketball players.
    Jin-Hee said that schools in South Korea are much more regimented than here in the USA. She said students don’t have many choices, whether it is in class schedule, lunch schedule, or any of several other areas of school life. She said students have specific a specific role for them, and the student is expected to work hard to achieve good grades. She said it is very competitive between students, but all of the hard work makes it hard to experience much of anything other than studying.
    Jin-Hee explained that in Korea, students are often divided into a high scoring group, and a lower scoring group. The higher scoring group is channeled into a higher level of study, and of course the lower scoring group is channeled into a more superficial level of study.
    Even with her year of being an exchange student at Lanesville High School (2006-07) more than two years in the past now, the McKim family kept in constant contact by e-mail over the intervening two years.
    “I e-mailed the McKim for two years,” Jin-Hee said. “They encouraged me.”
    When she got back to South Korea in the summer of 2007, she discovered to her dismay that she was unable to obtain a spot as a student in her local high school. To obtain a spot, she would have to move to an area in another high school district. With out a spot open, she eventually decided to get the South Korean equivalent of the GED.
    “It was kind of impossible,” Jin-Hee said understatedly.
    Besides taking the South Korean GED equivalent, she also took the TOEFL test while in South Korea, which tests how well you can speak English, as well as the SAT test.
    She was accepted by Indiana University Southeast (IUS) on a 46 month student visa, and if she does not receive a degree in the 46 months allotted, she will have to reapply for another 46 month student visa. According to Denzil McKim, this would be easy to obtain if needed.
    Jin-Hee re-entered the USA on April 19, 2009.
    At IUS, she is majoring in business, and is a freshman. She likes the numerous areas of study at IUS, and prefers macroeconomics as her specialty of study.
    But in order to remain in the USA as a student on a student visa, she must remain a full time student at all times. She was a full time student at the first summer semester at IUS, and is finishing up the second summer semester. The first summer semester, she took beginning Psychology and Sociology, and in the second summer semester, she is taking Geology and Business.
    “Professors know my name (at IUS), and students can speak up,” she said of IUS. “I love to hear (the) professor and my classmates discuss (things). That…means a lot.”
    “I’ve come to believe there are much more good people than bad people in the world, since I’ve stayed here in Lanesville,” Jin-Hee said. “I consider Lanesville as my second home, and I’m glad and proud Lanesville is my second hometown.”
    While staying with the McKim family, she has learned some of the fine points of guarding in basketball, and hopes to learn tennis this summer.
    In comparing where she lives in South Korea to the Lanesville area, she sad the area she lives in South Korea is more like a city, with tall buildings all around.
    “Everybody I see (back home), they seem like they are very busy, and always stay focused on their duties,” she explained. “Here, in Lanesville, I see many beautiful parts of the planet Earth. I see many greenish trees, and yellow corn fields. Every time I see a tree move along with the wind, and rabbits and deer pop up in sight, I’m awed. I feel like this is heaven. The scenery I see is blessed and peaceful.”
    “People living in this blessed nature, their nice attitude teaches me that I can do the same thing they do. I try to be nice to other people. I know some good and bad people exist. I appreciate the fact that I met many nice people in Lanesville. They happily help a foreign student, who is very curious about every difference she sees here, understand their culture.”

Vital Statistics
Name - Jin-Hee Jung
Born - January 1, 1990
Family - Father, Hen-Sung Jung; Mother, Mikyoung Kwak; Brother, Jun-Hwi Jung. Her father in an executive with the Hyundai Corporation.
Hometown - Yangju, Gyeonggi-do. It is close to several US Army bases.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 July 2009 13:39