Another year has come to a close. The temperature is dropping, students are cramming, and resolutions are forming as we look back at a tumultuous year and look forward to the changes in the future. International Student and Scholar Society (ISSS) is no exception, and The KAIST Herald interviewed Haena Kang and Grace You to reminisce the past year, and what ISSS and the international community have to look forward to.
|▲ Haena Kang and Grace You from ISSS | Jung Eun Yoo
Please briefly introduce yourselves.
[Kang]My name is Haena Kang, and I am a staff member at ISSS. I take care of student issues such as settling in Korea and academic concerns.
[You]My name is Grace You, and I am a coordinator at ISSS. I help international students with their alien registrations, visas, and immigration.
This year, the Office of Advising and Support for International Student (OASIS) went through several changes, most notably its name. What was the reaction and how has it affected the administration?
[Kang]The reaction was mixed. Some did not like the change, as [the name] OASIS had a symbolic meaning [to them], while others found the new name fitting for our administration. This year, ISSS has a larger group to aid. Along with scholars and post-graduates, we have [also] taken responsibility for exchange students from the International Relations Team, as our new name implies. Our overall goals remain the same, but we have more people to provide for.
What were the highlights for the international community this year?
[Kang][One was]President Sung Mo Kang’s election. I heard from the professors who worked [at KAIST] for 10 years or more that [such] gathering of international scholars was a once in a lifetime event. When he was elected, it served as a harbinger for the international community.
[You]The social gatherings like the Sports Festival, KAIST ONE, and the Buddy Program were really the key points for me. They really helped forge new relationships and further strengthen existing ones. We hope to add similar events so we can get more and more people involved, and give more opportunities for both Koreans and foreigners to overcome their fears and interact with each other in an amicable way.
What are ISSS’s plans for the upcoming year?
[Kang]As mentioned before, ISSS will be reaching out to a wider community, and we hope to add to what we have accomplished already. Personally, I hope to address the social and lingual issues that have been plaguing KAIST from a different perspective. Rather than current traditional methods to help internationals settle into Korea, I am considering lesser known activities such as quilting, taught by local people to give a more native experience [to the international students].
[You]ISSS has and will continue to give more career opportunities as well. This year, ISSS hosted a resume and cover letter seminar to help students with entering the workforce, and had people from companies all around the world come and give seminars to broaden people’s future perspectives. We wish to add on to that, although no specifics have been made just yet.
Any final comments?
[Kang]I just want to wish everyone a happy new year, and I love my job here at ISSS. Being able to help people with their problems and needs is something really meaningful to me, and I want everyone to know that we at ISSS are trying our hardest and will gladly help you in the years to come.
[You]Since Haena said happy new year, I will repeat it in Korean. Anyways, I have not much to say but look forward to the upcoming year. And the party, do not forget the party! See you all later and in the spring semester.