For more than a decade, UMD has been hosting student teachers from Ewha Womans University for a practicum that places them in local schools.
Students from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea just spent two weeks in Duluth for a unique cultural exchange and student teacher practicum offered through the University of Minnesota Duluth.
UMD established a partnership with Ewha Womans University in 2009. Over the past 11 years, more than 140 Ewha students have traveled to Duluth as part of the program. Hermantown, Duluth, and Cloquet have all been placement sites for the student teachers. Hermantown Community Schools has provided placements for the past four years.
Ten student teachers were placed in Hermantown Community Schools over the past couple of weeks to work with elementary, middle, and high school students. They were paired with teachers from their areas of focus, which ranged from English education to science education and special education.
Mark Mizuko, UMD professor and head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has been involved with the program since its early days. "The Ewha student teaching program is an excellent opportunity for the student teachers from Korea to connect with the teachers and students from Hermantown and to give them a life-changing experience they will always remember for the rest of their lives,” he said.
During their visit, the Ewha students met with CEHSP Dean Jill Pinkney Pastrana and shared their first impressions of American classrooms. A few of the students had already spent time living in the United States, though in different regions of the country.
Several students commented about the stark contrasts between the educational system in Korea and in the United States. Students were impressed with the newness of facilities and the caliber of technology at Hermantown. One participant expressed that she appreciated the openness of the school’s learning environment, which allowed Ewha students the flexibility to casually sit in and observe classes, and enjoy several teaching opportunities.
Dean Pinkney Pastrana encouraged the students to ask questions and share aspects of their culture and history with their Hermantown colleagues and students. “I invite you to make the most of every single minute of your time here,” she said. “This Ewha visit is one of the highlights of the year for many Hermantown educators and their students.”
Superintendent of Hermantown Community Schools Kerry Juntunen is a UMD alumnus who recognizes the value of this exchange. “It’s been an outstanding experience for us. We always hope that it’s great for them too,” he said.
Juntunen sees the program as especially beneficial in terms of helping provide lessons in cultural literacy since the school district is made up of primarily white students and staff. “At the end of the day, it’s so important for our students to get the chance to interact with people from other cultures,” said Juntunen.
The Ewha exchange includes a range of Duluth-area experiences. Shopping in Canal Park and connecting with students in the UMD Department of Education over pizza were among the activities this year. In addition, Recreational Sports Outdoor Program student worker Ashley Degenhardt led the Ewha group on a snowshoe hike at Split Rock Lighthouse.
Ewha Womans University began as Ewka Haktang in 1866. American missionary Mary F. Scranton started the school for girls with one pupil in her home at a time when there was little support for women’s education in Korea.
Over the years, Ewha Womans University has evolved to become an international co-educational institution with an enrollment of more than 21,000 students. Ewha welcomes non-degree seeking exchange and visiting students.
UMD Education students will have the chance to spend part of their student teaching assignment in South Korea at Seoul Foreign School beginning in the 2020-21 academic year. Learn more about International Student Teaching experiences through the Department of Education.