On April 28, the KAIST International Student Association (KISA), in partnership with the Undergraduate Student Council Emergency Response Committee (ERC), launched a new Language Exchange Program (LEP). The program seeks to connect students so that they may teach each other new languages.
During the launch event, the KISA-ERC staff set up “language pairs” by moving students into groups of two according to preferences input into a registration form that was circulated prior to the event. Students in language pairs were encouraged to teach each other the languages they are most comfortable with, and the staff announced that they would support the burgeoning relationship by providing prizes to pairs that met the most often or completed specific goals.
The program was inspired by the short-lived “Fall Language Exchange Program” that started under the Batchim administration right before the council disbanded. Despite the similar premise, the new KISA-ERC LEP has some significant differences to the Fall LEP, in that there are no restrictions placed on the languages being taught. The Fall LEP focused on bringing Korean and foreign students together. At the insistence of KISA members, membership to the KISA-ERC LEP was expanded, so that students from all backgrounds could participate.
At the time of writing, the LEP has had quite a rocky start, with some participants expressing their displeasure over their assigned partners. Additionally, a miscommunication between KISA and ERC members led to a lack of staff at the launch and a lack of clear instructions given to program participants. However, as put by Jisung Hwang, one of the ERC delegates at the event, this mismanagement is the herald of something positive. It is symptomatic of the changing relationship between KISA and the ERC. Both bodies are hoping to use this program as the founding block for a new, more integrated relationship. As the head of KISA’s events division, Dinmukhammed Malibay, explained, “I think this event will definitely strengthen the relationship between KISA and ERC, because both organizations plan to continue working together… In the future, KAIST students should be expecting that both organizations will try to target both Korean and international communities in order to achieve better cooperation and communication between the two.”