University celebrates ESL grads

Samantha Villanueva
Staff writer

Students from the Catholic University in Daegu, South Korea, celebrated their graduation from Murray State’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program last week.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, awards a South Korean ESL student with a graduate certificate. || Nate Brelsford

There were a total of 27 students who took part in the 12-week study abroad term at the University. These students and their university were part of a group of universities who are choosing Murray State in helping their students improve their English skills.

Luis Canales, director of the Institute for International Studies, said the event was a great opportunity for not only the students of Daegu but for Murray State students as well.

“This is a great contribution the international students are giving to the University,” he said. “They provide the regular student who might not ever have the chance to travel the world a way to ‘cheat’ that, and this way they learn about different cultures without having to leave. So the benefits run on both sides.”

Canales, who organizes the international study program, said the universities taking part in the program range from all over Asia. Schools in both South Korea and Japan have signed on for this year, with the last graduation of students from Toyoma University in Japan to take place March 6.

There are many social benefits to learning English at an American university, Canales said. The students gain a global competence and learn how to function around the world.

Through this program, he said the students learn how to be responsible citizens, not only in their home countries, but worldwide as well.

Grace Kim, who is in her junior year at Daegu, said she chose to come to Murray State because of the great opportunities the University advertised.

“I heard that it was a very good place for students to learn,” Kim said. “I would definitely like to come back and visit.”

Grace Kim said this was her first real chance to study English in the United States and she was happy she took the chance.

“This was a wonderful experience for me and it was all a very good memory for me,” she said. “From having a good roommate to enjoying and experiencing all the new foods – I enjoyed every moment of it.”

Canales said he was appreciative of the University administration’s support and interest in maintaining and preserving the international program. Although the students graduate from the program during the beginning months of the spring semester, they have the option to go back to their home university or enter into regular Murray State classes.

Seonyoung Kim, a student of Daegu University from Gyeng-Ju, South Korea, said the experienced bettered her as a person.

“I am proud of myself for taking this chance,” she said. “It was a once and only kind of experience in the world – one not many can have.”

Seonyoung Kim, who is also in her junior year, said there are many factors that made her journey worth while. The common courtesy of teachers and students helped make her trip to Murray State more memorable. She said although she did not have the advantage of picking this school, she does not regret it.

Said Seonyoung Kim: “This was all a good experience and I will definitely go back to my other school and tell my friends about the great time I had at Murray State.”