Student Life In Seoul

We meet Emilly Achieng, A computer Engineering Student at Gamchon University, Seoul.

When did you begin your studies in Korea?

I came to Korea about two years ago. And because I had studied Korean Language in Kenya and did the Proficiency test, I straight away began my major.

What do you love most about Seoul?

Seoul is one of those places that offers a global environment to learn and grow. It has diverse people from all walks of life and meeting them or just being around them is a great chance to develop interesting perspectives in life. And of course there are many amazing places to tour. It is rich in culture and history. And I won’t forget the internet speed that is second to none.

What are some of the culture shocks you encountered upon landing in Korea?

I used to have that habit of trying any food I am presented with, untill one time we were on a table, a group of us enjoying a meal. And then afterwards, one just inquired if we knew what we had eaten? We were all like, ’no please!.’ We didn’t want to know anything beyond the delicacy that we had just eaten! Let me just say, the answer was not good.

How do you relate with other Kenyans in Korea? Are you close?

Yes, I have  quite a number of friends that we began the journey with in Nairobi and still now our friendship holds here. Also, I have met quite a number in Korea and we keep in touch always. I enjoy writing. I was an active contributor to the KCK Jambo Kenya Magazine column when the magazine was still up and running. So yes, I do relate in many ways with Kenyans in Korea.

What are some of the challenges that you’ve encountered studying in Korea?

All through daily encounters with something new and strange that requires time to adapt. Also, being asked honest questions that are not-so-pleasant at times.

What are some of the interesting aspects?

A baby is said to be one year old when born here. I find it interesting.

What advice do you have for those who want to study in Korea?

Everyone’s experience is different. Mine was never easy. I tried quite a number of schools before landing on one. That took a lot of time. Your experience could be different from mine. But once you make that grand decision, nothing should ever stop you. Never walk back.

Korean By Birth But Kenyan At Heart

 

Jauquelyne Kosgei speaks to Prof. Yuhjin Park, the Korean Studies Professor at the University of Nairobi.

The Bridge: For how long have you been in Kenya?

Prof. Park: I have been in Kenya for exactly four years; I arrived at the end of August 2013. I started teaching at UoN soon after.

The Bridge: Having been in Kenya for four years, what can you say of your initial feeling and impression compared to your experiences over time?

Prof. Park: Not much has changed, really. At first, I was surprised to find a very blue sky and huge birds flying in the air. These are not things you will usually see in Korea, and I was very fascinated. Until now, I still find Kenya’s natural environment and weather very captivating.

The Bridge: Please tell us about your academic journey.

Prof. Park: I enrolled for my BA degree in Ewha Womans University in 2000. I did not graduate until 2006 though, as I spent one semester visiting Beijing, China, and a whole academic year focusing on extracurricular activities. I majored in Chinese Language and Literature, and minored in Korean Language and Literature and also in Asian Studies. For three years after my BA, I worked in Korean Broadcasting Station (KBS) as an assistant writer. I then went to Shanghai, China, where I taught Korean Literature to Koreans studying there. I then returned to my alma mater where I did my Master of Education between 2010 and 2012. Soon after, I applied for the post of KF Visiting Professor, and I was fortunate to be hired. And here I am.

The Bridge:  So, was teaching always your dream career? If not, when did you consider being a teacher?

Prof. Park: Actually, I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school. I always loved to read novels and poems. That is why I studied Chinese and Korean literature. In fact, I took more literature units than linguistic ones! However, teaching Korean Literature in Shanghai, I realised I could make a good teacher. I found it easy and fun communicating with students.

The Bridge: Talking of which, we talked to some of your students. All of them say you are an excellent teacher. What do you think you do that would make them see you so?

Prof. Park: Thank you! I think that is because I am friends with them besides being just a teacher. I have made them very comfortable with me, and I always have time to talk about their family, relationships, and sometimes their dreams and aspirations. That may be the reason.

The Bridge: What is the one thing your students do not know about you?

Prof. Park: Uh, nothing! I think my students know everything about me.

The Bridge: What is one day like for a teacher?

Prof. Park: In my case, I don’t go to school every day, but I would prepare handouts for my students, have a class for 2-3 hours, give a make-up class for those who need it, and sometimes have coffee or pizza with my students. For now, I am also writing a paper for an upcoming conference in Egypt.

The Bridge: What is the one expectation you have of (your) students?

Prof. Park: I expect them to study extra even without homework assigned to them. They are not primary or high school kids anymore, and should study independently. Also, as a language teacher, I don’t expect them to rely on Google Translate as a tutor, especially for basic expressions we have learned in class. Trust me, Google Translate can sometimes generate weird sentences, some of which I have received.

The Bridge: Having said that, what is the best thing about your students?

Prof. Park: Generally, I find my students very enthusiastic about Korean language and Korea in general. They are always excited and actually show up for Korean events like the Korean Film Festival, the Korean Food Festival, and the Korean National Foundation Day. They put so much energy into making these occasions a success, and I am happy about that.

The Bridge: It is obvious that you have blended into the Kenyan culture now, but what is the most shocking thing you ever observed in Kenya?

Prof. Park: I have gone to a few clubs here in Kenya, and I am still shocked about the dance styles here. Put simply, there is too much hip movement in Kenyan dance.

The Bridge: What hobbies have you adopted in Kenya?

Prof. Park: These aren’t new hobbies, really, but I love reading comic books and playing the violin. I also like playing mobile games, with Clash of Clans as my current favourite. I am actually the leader of my clan at the moment. I also love going on holiday sometimes, with Mombasa and Zanzibar being the best destinations to experience the Indian Ocean, and Maasai Mara the best reserve to observe the animal species.

The Bridge: What are your plans for the future?

Prof. Park: I plan to keep teaching at UoN for a few more years, which tells you that I am happy to be here. I am currently developing my doctoral thesis to be presented at UoN.

 

Busan !!

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haeundae beach- Artwork by Sakina Taherali

By Kwamboka Ngoko

Formerly known as Pusan, Busan is South Korea’s most populous city after Seoul. During the Korean War that lasted from 1950-1953, Busan was one of only two cities in South Korea not captured by the North Korean army within the first three months of the War. As a result, the city became one of the refugee camp sites for Koreans during the war. At the time, it served as a temporary capital of the Republic of Korea. Since then, like Seoul, the city has been a self-governing metropolis and has built a strong urban character.

Busan is a  very popular cultural destination among both local and international tourists. It is known for international conventions as well as sports tournaments, constantly attracting large crowds all year long. Also, it boasts of being home to the worlds largest department store, the Shinsegae Centum City.

Teeming with cobalt oceans, lush mountains and endless fares, it’s a city full of surprises and a laid-back vibe that makes it the perfect base from which to explore farther afield in South Korea. Bursting with mountains and beaches, hot springs and seafood, South Korea’s second-largest city is a rollicking port town with tonnes to offer. From casual tent bars and chic designer cafes to fish markets teeming with every species imaginable, Busan has something for all tastes. Rugged mountain ranges criss-crossing the city define the urban landscape, while events such as the Busan International Film Festival and a world class convention centre underscore the city’s desire to be a global meeting place.

So, what are the top things to explore while in Busan?

BUSAN ARCHITECTURE

Gamcheon Culture Village

Representing Busan in the southeast of the country, Gamcheon Culture Village is a mountaintop shanty town that was redeveloped as an art project by students in 2009. Since then, it has become famous for its street art, which crawls down staircases and splashes over old houses.

This historically-rich, mountainside cultural quarter is one of Busan’s most intriguing sights. Originally settled by refugees during the Korean War, tiny hillside homes were constructed by followers of a fringe religious group that believed the universe operates on the basis of a yin-yang dialectic. For decades, the community remained isolated, almost forgotten. However today, this one time pocket of poverty has been transformed into a community of renewal and sustainability. The art students installed a collection of clever decorative pieces best discovered by zigzagging through narrow alleys, peeking around corners and searching out new views from out-of-the way benches creating such a delightful experience.

Gwacheon Culture Village.

Gwangali Bridge

It is the longest bi-level bridge over the Pacific Ocean in South Korea. In addition to providing a quick way to get around, the bridge offers breathtaking views of nearby attractions, including the endlessly unfolding ocean, Oryukdo Island, Hwangnyeongsan Mountain, Gwangalli Beach, Dongbaekseom Island, and Dalmaji Hill. Equipped with thousands of LED lights, the bridge showcases a beautiful lighting exhibition at night that changes with the seasons. The bridge offers a majestic  beauty when combined with nearby attractions during the day and a romantic atmosphere at night, attracting many residents and tourists.

Beomeo-sa Temple

Beomeo-Sa is a top notch buddhist temple in Busan. This magnificent temple is Busan’s best sight in my opinion, with the  early dawn chanting hauntingly beautiful and  extraordinary. In spite of  its city location, Beomeo-sa is a world away from the urban jungle, with beautiful architecture set against an extraordinary mountain backdrop. Usually, it is a busy place on the weekends as both local and international tourists flock to admire it. First, second and even third visits are often never enough.

UN Cemetery

This is the only United Nations cemetery in the world and is the final resting place of 2300 men from 11 nations, including the UK, Turkey, Canada and Australia, that backed South Korea  in the 1950–53 Korean War. There’s a moving photo exhibit, along with knowledgeable volunteers who share stories about the people in the images. It is a great place to learn about Korean history and culture.

NATURE

Haeundae Beach

South Korea’s most famous and beloved beach is Haeundae which is about  2.2km-long.  The beach is enveloped by a wall of commercial and residential development, granting these buildings a stunning view.  Evenings are an ideal time to stroll the beachfront path set against a glowing backdrop of Gotham-esque highrise buildings and, further down the coast, paved trails that yield a panoramic perspective of the breadth of Haeundae’s expansive urban landscape. The beach is a popular destination for revelers over the weekends and endless festivities which mark the Busan calendar all year round.

Taejongdae Park

This is a natural park of Busan  with magnificent cliffs facing the open sea on the southernmost tip of island of Yeongdo-gu. It is a representative visitor attraction of Busan with dense evergreen trees and several facilities for tourists such as an observatory, an amusement park, a light house, a cruise ship terminal. For anyone seeking some quiet and solace, or even a romantic picnic Taejeongdae is always the best idea.

FOOD

Jagalchi Fish Market

Big, bold and salty, Jalgalchi Fish Market epitomizes Busan. An incredible array of seafood, from big squid to red snapper, an all manner of sea creatures with slithering tentacles is served, both alive and dead. The traditional atmosphere coupled with and freshness of the fish make this a staple Busan experience.

Local Delicacies

Hotteok, a traditional Korean snack, is a small pancake with a brown sugar and cinnamon filling. Busanese hotteok is particularly special thanks to the addition of seeds known as ssiat hotteok. The pancake is grilled in hot oil, stuffed with nuts and seeds and served in a paper cup.  It is chewy, crunchy, piping hot,  and delicious, capturing the Busan flavours. Seriously, no foodie should visit Busan without trying.

Sulbing is yet another favorite every foodie should definitely try!  Served in a heavy earthenware bowl, sulbing is shaved frozen milk topped off with soybean powder and almond slivers. A splash of condensed milk adds delicate sweetness and liquidy goodness. One bowl comes with several spoons and, like most good things in life, is best enjoyed with companionship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korea Trade Investment Agency, Nairobi

What does KOTRA do?

 코트라는 Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency의 약자로서, 한국 기업들이 세계 각지에 진출하여 수출을 장려하고, 성공적인 투자를 할 수 있도록 돕고, 반대로 세계 각지에서 한국에 수출을 돕고 투자를 장려하는 정부 기관입니다. 코트라는 1962년부터 한국 산업통상부 산하에서 설립되어 현재 세계 각지 123개국에 해외 무역관을 운영하고 있습니다. 1950년 한국전쟁으로 폐허 뿐인 한국을 세계 6위의 수출대국으로 견인하는 역할을 해왔습니다.

 KOTRA stands for Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. It is a government agency that helps Korean companies enter the world to export, make successful investments, and encourage investments into Korea from all over the world. KOTRA was established in 1962 under the Republic of Korea’s ministry of Industry and Trade and currently operates overseas, with trade centers in 123 countries around the world. This has contributed to Korea’s great economic transition from the old Korea that suffered the 1950 Korean War into the sixth largest exporter in the world.

 

2. How has KOTRA impacted the trade and investment relations between Kenya and Korea so far?

 코트라가 케냐와 한국사이에 교역, 투자에 어떤 점에서 영향을 미쳣냐

코트라 나이로비는 기본적으로 교역과 투자를 돕는 회사이다. 다시말해, 매치메이킹을 전문적으로 하는 기업인 것이다. 대기업 진출을 돕기도 하지만, 우리 무역관은 좀더 한국의 중소기업들의 케냐 진출에 집중하고 있다. 코트라 나이로비는 아프리카 해외무역관을 통틀어서 가장 실적이 좋은 무역관이다. 구체적인 실적을 공개하기는 어렵지만, 해외시장조사, 해외사절단, 해외출장지원, 수출상담회 등 2015년에는 100건 이상의 실적을 올렸고, 2016년에는 200건 이상의 실적을 달성하였다.

 KOTRA Nairobi is basically a trading and investment agency. In other words, it is a company that specializes in matchmaking. While helping to advance large corporations, we are focusing more on Korean SMEs’ entry into Kenya. KOTRA Nairobi is the best performing trade center in Africa. Although it is difficult to disclose specific results, it achieved more than 100 sales in 2015 and more than 200 in 2016, including overseas market research, overseas delegation, overseas business trip support and export consultation.

 

3. Of what significance did the Korean President’s visit to Kenya have on the bilateral trade & investment relations between Kenya & S. Korea? What role did  you play as an organization?

박근혜가 왔을 때 어떤 일들이 케냐간의 교역에 어떤 영향을 미쳤는가? 그리고 그사이 코트라는 어떤 일을 하였는가

2016년 5월에 박근혜 전대통령과 함께 우리나라 무역사절단 40개 기업이 케냐를 방문하였다. 우리는 이 기업이 케냐 시장에 진출하고, 케냐 기업들이 한국으로부터 좋은 제품과 정보를 얻어갈 수 있도록 코트라가 200여건에 달하는 수출 상담회를 주선하였다. 이 때 온 사절단의 성과가 상당히 좋아서 한번에 그치지 않고 후속 상담회를 위해 ‘아프리카민관합동사절단’23개 기업들이 한국에서 케냐로 2016년 11월에 한번 더 왔었다. 이 때도 100여건이 넘는 수출상담회를 코트라가 주선하였다.

 In May 2016, the former President Ms. Park GeunHye together with 40 Korean trade delegations came to Kenya. So far we have organized over 200 export consultations for those companies to enter the Kenyan market and allowed Kenya companies to get good products and information from Korea. At this time, the success rate of the delegations has been remarkable. In November 2016, twenty three Korean companies from the ‘African Private-Public Joint Delegation’ came to Kenya for a follow-up meeting. More than 100 export consultations were organized by KOTRA.

 

4. In helping Korean companies and SMEs to set shop in Kenya, what exactly does KOTRA do? Does it help investors to obtain licenses, anything along those lines?

케냐에 한국기업이 지사를 낼 때 코트라가 정확하게 어떤 절차들을 돕는가? 라이선스라도 취득할 수 있게 도움을 주는 것인가?

케냐 내에서 기업을 운영하기 위해 필요한 라이선스가 여러가지 있는데, 그것은 케냐 정부에서 하는 것이지 코트라가 직접 관여할 수는 없다. 우리는 한국 기업이 이 과정에서 필요한 정보와 노하우를 제공할 뿐이다. 우리가 중점적으로 돕는 절차는 한국과 케냐 사이에서 수출 및 수입이 일어 날 수 있도록 바이어와 셀러를 연결해주는 역할을 하는 것이다. 물론 코트라는 케냐에서는 대사관 상무부 소속이기 때문에, 케냐 바이어가 한국 들어가서 교역을 하기 위해 필요한 비자업무나 행정절차는 코트라가 진행하고 있다.

 There are a number of licenses required to run a business in Kenya which are issued by the Kenyan government, not KOTRA. We only provide information and know-how that the companies would need in this process. The process we chiefly focus on is to connect buyers and sellers so that the exportation and import can take place between Korea and Kenya. Also, since KOTRA belongs to the Korean Embassy’s Department of Commerce in Kenya, KOTRA proceeds with visa matters and administrative procedures necessary for Kenya buyers to enter and trade in Korea.

Korea’s Ex-President visit to Kenya in 2016

 

5. Revisiting the Korean President’s visit to Kenya last year, a number of MoUs were signed. About 20 in total. These included pacts on Nuclear energy and electricity generation, building of an industrial complex, E-government cooperation, KAIST, Korea-Kenya Government cooperation center (for 3 years), a commitment to KONZA city and a few more.

박근혜가 작년에 재방문 하였을 때, 20개기업이 양해각서를 체결하고 돌아갔다. 거기엔 핵개발, 산업단지 조성, E-govern 만들기, 카이스트, 콘자 시티 등이 있다

-Where are we at now?

지금 이 산업들이 어떻게 진행되어가는가

2017년 4월부터 위의 사업에 전담 직원이 새로 배치되어 후속조치를 하고있다. 아직까지 뚜렷할 만한 성과는 내보이지 못한 것은 사실이나, 대한민국 정부가 주두한 사업인 만큼 KOTRA 한국 본사에서도 상당히 관심을 가지고 팔로우 업을 하고 있다. 특히 케냐 정부는 산업단지 조성에 관심을 보이고 있는데, KOTRA는 지식 공유 프로그램인 KSP(Knowledge Sharing Program) 사업을 통해서 이를 체계적으로 지원하고 있다. 얼마전에 한국에서 연구진들이 케냐를 방문하여 2016/17년 산업 단지 조성을 위한 KSP 사업이 성공적으로 마무리 되었다. KOTRA는 2017/18년도 KSP 사업을 통해서 케냐의 경제 발전을 위해 긴밀하게 계속 협력해나갈 계획이다

From April 2017, a dedicated staff was assigned to do a follow up on the above projects. It is true that we have not seen clear results yet because it has been a short time since the signing happened. KOTRA HQ  has a great interest in following-up businesses as those businesses are centered by the Korean government. In particular, the Kenyan government is interested in creating an industrial complex and KOTRA systematically supports it through the Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP). Recently, the Korean researchers and delegates visited Kenya, and the KSP project for the industrial complex development in 2016/17 was completed successfully. KOTRA plans to continue closely cooperating with KSP in 2017/18 for the economic development of Kenya

6. Mention some of the annual business delegations that are held by KOTRA in a year both in Kenya and Korea

한해동안 케냐와 한국에서 진행되고 있고 있는 코트라 사절단 연간 사업에 대해서 말해달라

일단 한국 대구 경북 사절단, 전라도 사절단, 방산보안 사절단이 다녀갔다. 케냐-한국 화상 수출 상담회 1회를 진행하였다.

일단 2017년 하반기에는 선거기간 정치적 불안정성 때문에 더 이상의 사절단 방문은 계획되어있는 것은 없다.

 The projects, Kenya-Korea Export Conference and consultations for ‘Daegu Gyeongbuk Province Delegation’, ‘Jeolla Province Delegation’, ‘Defense Security Delegation’ have just been completed successfully. In the second half of 2017, there will not be any more delegation visits and projects due to the political instability in the election period.

 

7. Any challenges that KOTRA is facing in its line of work.

코트라가 일을 진행할 때 가장 힘들었던 점은 무엇인가요

코트라는 정부 산하 조직이다. 그렇기 때문에 다른 사기업들과 달리 우리 회사의 서비스를 받는 고객은 한국 국민 전체를 대상으로 한다. 그렇기 때문에 모든 상담에 친절하게 응대해야할 의무가 있다. 이것이 성과 평가에 상당한 영향을 미치기 때문에 자의반 타의반 친절을 다한다. 코트라의 많은 업무들보다 고객들을 친절하고 낮은 자세에서 응대하는 것이 사실 가장 어렵다.

 KOTRA is a government affiliate. Therefore, unlike other private companies, customers who receive our services comprise of the entire Korean people. Therefore, there is an obligation to respond kindly to all consultations. Since this has a considerable effect on the performance evaluation, we are expected to be the most  kindest of people. It is more difficult to give special attention to each customer, in a more friendly and fitting attitude because of the many tasks that we do.

 

Interview by Bhavisha Patel

Interviewee: Mr. Jang Jaewon- Rep. KOTRA Nairobi.

 

Korean Film Festival

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Cultural Exchange

For three years running the Embassy of the Republic of Korea has run an annual film festival in Nairobi. This is a four day event focused on screening Korean Movies to the Kenyan public to help promote Korean culture.This year the event took place at Alliance Francaise Nairobi from the 6th of June 2017 to 9th. On 6th at around 5.00 p.m. , a throng of movie goers and film enthusiasts gathered in droves to witness the launch. They were treated to snacks and drinks. Of these decadent treats a number were of Korean origin. Alongside dining, hugs, handshakes and bows took over as people from all walks of life introduced each other.

Some minutes into this we headed into the theatre. The first Secretary of the Embassy got on stage and gave an acknowledgement for the continued growth of Korea and Kenya relations. She then invited the Ambassador Hon. Kwon Young Dae to give his speech and launch the festival officially. He would later come on stage, emphasize the importance of cultural exchange and how pleased they were as an Embassy to share their culture with the Kenyan people.

Fast forward, the festival started with a Zombie blockbuster, the famous ‘Train to Busan’ and followed with ‘Love 911′ before closing the day. The second day (June 7th) we were ushered into comedy and family melodrama in the movie ‘Miracle in Cell no 7’. The day ended with ‘The World of Us’. The third day (June 8th) we started with the survival drama ‘The Tunnel’ and then switched to ‘Terror Live.’ The final day begun with a romantic comedy named ‘My Sister, the Pig lady’ that left many ribs aching because of  laughter. The curtains were closed after the screening of ‘A violent Prosecutor.’

Gathering views from those that had the chance to attend, the four day experience was great. The movies did justice to depict the daily Korean life and culture from its basics to the sophisticate. From bows that came in form of greetings, the language that was interpreted by use of sub-titles, the old Joseon structures and the mystical cultural garbs, all this was portrayed. In the end the Embassy managed to draw a number of Kenyans to Korean culture.

“The Embassy hopes to promote closeness between Korean and Kenyan people,” echoed the Political & Research officer at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea Mr. Andronicus Sikula. The event, a form of cultural diplomacy commenced in 2015. To expand the outreach the Embassy extended the screening to two more cities. Last year, the festival was also run in Mombasa and Kisumu. The decision to expand the outreach was triggered by Korea ex- premier’s visit to Kenya, whose presence made the Kenyan people a tad more curious about Korea.

To boost the level of cultural diplomacy, the Embassy runs other events as well. They include the Korean food festival, the Taekwondo festival and the Korean foundation day, which are spread across the year. With the teaching of Korean culture and language in local institutions such as the University of Nairobi, Mahanaim College and Kenyatta University, Korea hopes to widen the learning scope of Korean culture and language to the Kenyan people.

The Korean corner at the University of Nairobi, a cultural auditorium launched last year by the Korean Embassy, is another area open to people who would want to know more about Korean culture.

KNOWLEDGE SHARING

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Korea project on International Agriculture (KOPIA) is one of the projects that the Republic of Korea is using to share its development experience and knowledge across the globe. It is run by Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA). In 2009 they begun their work in Africa by launching their working centers in Kenya and Ethiopia. To date, they have reached 10 countries across the continent and are doing a lot to improve the Agricultural performance of the countries they are working in.

The Kenyan chapter is run by an ebullient Director, Dr. Kim Choong-Hoe who has led his team to achieve much more for the 8 years that they have been running. They work in partnership with the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in meeting a select number of needs that face the Kenyan agriculture. Their projects center around poultry production, maize, rice, potato and vegetable production.

They are located in Kiambu, at KALRO  headquarters. There projects run in Nyandarua,  Kikuyu and Machakos county. For the other regions in need of their know-how and equipment such as the Western part of the country, the respective county Governors have made an effort to visit their center and learn a number of things

A tour at KOPIA centre provides a glimpse into their psyche, evidenced by the farm demonstrations that fill up the compound. There are several demo fields exhibiting  a range of  crops such as maize, potato, cabbage and tomato. There are crops with over 23 species of herbs such as lavender and rosemary, and others that have cucumber, paprika and strawberry. The most ambitious could be the 3rd demo field, which is a furnished poultry raising facility. In this facility they have been raising poultry that they later distribute to farmers in the quest to promote local poultry farming. They give it to local farming groups with each group receiving 5 chicken to start them off. To be able to get this donation, a group must comprise a minimum of 20 farmers

KOPIA is more hands on and practical than you would find a typical project office. In fact, the Director does not look the part. On a normal day he will be dressed like a farmer and so will his members of staff. The demo fields are spread out, an assemblage of green houses, tilled lands and poultry houses.

In addition to these outstanding demo fields, the work they have done outside is equally great. They have run four projects which have been rolled out in 2 phases. Part of this has been disseminating technologies in the production of rice, potato and the vegetables. To function in an efficient manner, they have worked along researchers to develop localized technologies that are in sync with the Kenyan farmers. They have constructed demonstration plots at major production areas, advised farmers on using the correct certified seeds, maintaining the soils and making manure.

One of its outstanding projects is building the school farm of Kadeng’wa primary. They have equipped the farm with poultry, maize, potato, sweet potato, cabbage and tomatoes. The farm products have gone into feeding the children most of who come from poor families. The Director, Dr. Kim Choong Hoe went lengths to use his own personal money to buy them food, textbooks and stationery. He also  requested for a large scale donation from the Rural Development Authority (RDA) Korea that heed his call. The centre is looking forward to do much more that will improve Kenya’s agriculture and establish Korea as a true partner in the country’s general development.

Image Credits: Joshua Nyantika

 

A 10 DAY EXPERIENCE IN S.KOREA.

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Travel

The Journey begun at 5 pm on the 10th of July. Being my first journey by air to a far off continent, albeit to a country I had long longed to visit, it was a dream come true. I was thrilled. After 14 hours of air travel, I arrived at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday evening where I was met by a team from Duksung University. Shortly afterwards, we departed for Duksung University.

On the 12th of July, we had two educational trips to Korea’s National Assembly and Seoul National University’s Kyujanggak Institute for Korean studies which had an archive for the documented heritage of Joseon dynasty. Being a Korean history fanatic, I quickly understood the explanations given by the guide. It felt like the Korean Drama series I usually watch come to life. Later on, we proceeded to the National Institute for International Education, Korea (NIIED) center to spend the night.

The 3rd day was particularly exciting for me because we got round to practice and experience Taekwondo. It happened at Arirang Taekwondo centre for the greater part of our morning. My friends and I learnt some self-defense moves and then Kyukpa, the art of wood breaking. Afterwards we set off to the National Museum of Korea and Chandeokgung palace. The places made Korean culture and history come to life. As we travelled from place to place I interacted with other Korean Government Invitation program (KGIP) participants, allowing me to learn different cultures the world over.

Over the weekend, we watched a thrilling Nanta performance. Nanta is a famous Korean non-verbal comedy show that incorporates traditional salmunori rhythm. I really loved the combination of live music and comedy drama in this particular performance. At some point, I felt like leaving my seat to go join them.

Later on my friend and I ventured the Kyeongbok palace that was only a walking distance from where the Nanta was being staged. It was drizzling but that could not stop us. From Kyeongbok’kung, we then left for the popular Namsan Seoul Tower. Absorbing the length of this lush and tall structure, then glancing down at Seoul from this high point was too much fun.

The next day, we had a 3 hour road trip to Naksan in Gangwon-do province where we visited the Unification Observatory. There, we were able to see the border between North and South Korea from an elevated position by use of binoculars. Despite the presence of heavy military personnel everything looked calm. As I looked over the area, there were so many posters and sculptures preaching peace. Deep in my heart, I could not help but pray to God for the prevalence of peace, and that war would never break out again between the North and South.

Later on we went to Naksan temple. I did not participate in some of the Buddhist activities due to my strong Christian faith but then I got to discover that the religion had significantly impacted Korea’s history. I also enjoyed the breathtaking view of the ocean, beach and the different sceneries in this area.

The following day we travelled from Gangwon-Do to Suwon, then set off for Samsung Digital City. The city is where Samsung develops and tests the first designs of its electronic products. The guides were able to take us through Samsung’s evolution over the years from a mere rice shop to a world leading electronic brand. We got to see most of Samsung’s first electronic gadgets dating back to the 80’s to their latest models of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, fridges, curved UHD,LCD and LED screens just to mention but a few.

The following day my friends and I had the chance to prepare Bulgogi and Kimbap, Korea’s popular dishes. With the ingredients prepared beforehand and with a chef to help us, the process got on well.

On the second last day of our program, we travelled to Incheon Port located  at the mid-western coast of the Korean Peninsula. It is the third largest port in the world. At Incheon, we particularly visited the Incheon Free Economic Zone and Songdo International City. I learned the key details on Songdo’s efforts and progress towards becoming a global business hub. Later on we made our way to Lotte World Tower, the 5th tallest building in the world, and Lotte World (amusement park) where we visited various facilities.

We spent our final day in a hand craft activity, guided on how to create our own compact containers from hanji paper. Later on in the day, we donned the traditional Korean attire, the Hanbok.

Sharing the last moments and parting was really difficult. The strangers I knew had turned into friends and now we were family. While sharing our experiences, those final moments proved emotional. But we promised each other to work hard and possibly meet again in future. The Korean Government Invitation Program was really a great experience. I made many friends and together we made unforgettable memories. As an individual I developed a sense of accomplishment, improved my communication skills both in Korean and English and became more confident to face the world. At the end of it all I was grateful to God and everyone else who had made the program possible.

Story By Marvin Ji Won

 

A SEMESTER IN JEJU

By Sophie Wambua.

It is the dream of most, if not all students who study Korean language to visit South Korea and get  to experience the country’s  unique and authentic heritage, an experience that speaks to the mind and soul of those who study it. I was lucky enough to get a TOPIK scholarship to study for one semester at Jeju National University located in the beautiful Island of Jeju. This was a dream come true. I prepared all my travel documents and when the 25th of February 2017 got by, I bid my country farewell and left for S.korea. The flight was long and exhausting but I finally got to Jeju Island. The director of the Foreign Students’ department picked me up from the airport and gave me a well organized schedule with all the program requirements.

My first night was a blacked-out blur due to the exhaustion. After I was well rested, my roommate showed me around campus. I was immediately captured by the beauty of the place.  The architecture of the buildings was majestic and the standard of hygiene was rather high. Our hostels looked like some ‘5 star hotels.’ Well, everything surpassed my expectations.

I have to admit that it was not easy for me at first. This is because I am not really good at meeting new people or making friends. My Korean by then was not so good and so the thought enhanced the hibbie jibbies . I could only speak little Korean despite having studied it in UoN. All in all the Korean people that I came across  were so impressed that even people from Africa are aware of their language let alone speak it.

With no time to waste, we were set to sit for a level test at the beginning of the week to determine our  level of proficiency in the Korean language. Thereafter I began my language course. Our class was oozing with diversity; two students from Japan, two from Mexico, one from Colombia, one from Brazil, one from Russia, one from France, ten from China and  I from Kenya. Before we started learning, the teacher taught us a fun game that helped us to know each other’s names, nationality, favorite food and hobbies.  Suffice it to say, I had already made friends by the end of the first class. Our classes were conducted in a very organized manner. The teacher was very kind and patient with all of us. She taught at a perfect pace that enabled us to grasp the language even better. We managed to polish our conversational skills, which  made it easier for us to communicate with other students in the campus and Korean people at large. Occasionally, the teacher could bring us treats like sweets, cookies and nuts, and this went way to  lift our spirits.

From the schedule that I was given, we had three cultural trips that  were organized and funded by the school. They provided an opportunity for foreign students to tour the Island and get a feel of what Korean culture entails. For the first trip we were given a tour of Yakchusa temple stay located on Daepo-dong, Seogipo-si in Jeju. It is the largest temple in  East Asia.  The view was breathtaking. The rocks and the surrounding wild growing tangerine trees created a beautiful and a peaceful scenery. The temple was very ancient yet it looked maintained. It consisted of high ceilings, beautiful decorative Chinese and Korean characters, and a big golden like statue of Buddha that rested in the middle of the room.  We all gathered  and a  Buddhist monk gave us a brief description of the temple. For lunch we ate temple food, then went ahead and learned more about Buddhism, and later made Buddhist bracelets.

Come the second trip (a different day), we visited Jeju Stone Park and watched a newly released movie “fast and furious”. For the last cultural trip we visited Udo island. To get there, we boarded a ship. Udo island is located on the north eastern of Seongsan-ni, 3.5 km off the coast of Jeju. Udo, literally ‘cow island” in Chinese, has the name because it looks like a cow lying down. Udo is famously known for its delicious ice creams. I tried and  confidently  testified it to be  the best Ice cream that I had ever tasted. Over the weekend I got to travel the island and visited other well known tourist attractions like the Hallasan, Loveland, Jeongbang waterfall, the hots prings of Seowgipo, a human maze park, the teddy bear museum and Manjangull cave. The island was very  beautiful and its black sandy  beaches were a sight to behold.

I can’t fail to talk about the food, my favourite part in the entire trip. I got a chance to try out all the Korean cuisines I had  dreamt  about.  The most bizarre food that I ate was raw octopus,sannakji. It was  unexpectedly delicious . I also tried Beongdegi which is steamed silkworm larvae(complete with the juices that come out during steaming process), soondae-blood sausages, and  jjajangmyeum.

To mark the beginning of spring, the school invited some well known Kpop musicians like Crush, Dynamic duo and girlfriends  to perform at our campus. It was so much fun as we got to groove along  our favorite jams. The blooming of the cherry blossom flowers is one of most the beautiful scenery I have ever seen.

Life in Korea is extremely convenient and comfortable. The developed infrastructure  and elaborate transport made it easier for us foreigners to navigate the area. The Korean people were warm hearted, kind and more than willing to help in any way that they could. Every time, the locals wanted to interact with me and would often stop in the streets just to say hi. All in all the experience was an eye opener. It made me appreciate my African heritage because it was shocking to realize how other people admired it.

 

Exploring Korea And Kenya

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Masai Mara

The Masai Mara is a Game Reserve located in Narok County. It is one of the best vacation sites in Kenya. From the abundance of nature and wildlife to the magnificent camps all over the reserve, the Masai Mara is definitely a fun-filled experience for all its visitors’.  It is especially famous for the Great Migration of Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomson’s gazelle from the Serengeti across the Mara River. Visitors can enjoy residency in one of the reserve’s camp sites all the while enjoying a variety of cuisine from the Isokon Restaurant. There is a range of activities one can participate in while at the Masai Mara; sightseeing tours on the hot air balloons, wildlife safaris and visiting the Masai village and market. While here one can experience the exciting Masai culture. This is definitely a place to visit.

Mombasa

This is a town on the coast of Kenya which is well known for its warm and palm-lined sandy beaches and clear waters. For animal lovers, Haller Park is the place to visit. With over 160 species of birds and a variety of wildlife it is a great hit. One can also visit some pre-historic sites like the Fort Jesus and the Gedi Ruins for an exciting cultural experience. Mamba Village, a crocodile farm is a popular spot with tourists. The Marine National Park is the place to visit. With activities like diving and snorkeling, one can get the full marine experience. You can also view the marine life from the glass-bottom boat if you don’t want to get into the water. Honestly there is really no limit to the places you can visit in Mombasa.

The Rift Valley

The Rift Valley extends through Kenya through from the north to south. As you travel up there are so many sites to behold. You could hike your way up Mt. Longonot or simply enjoy the view of the mountain from the view point along the highway. There are also numerous curio shops where one can buy authentic Kenyan antiques. While in Naivasha, Lake Naivasha and Hell’s Gate are just a few of the places you should visit. Along the highway you can observe Zebras, Baboons and gazelles on the sides of the road. A tour of Lake Nakuru national Park is also a must-do. The view of the pink flamingos and the beautiful wildlife is a breathtaking scenery. From Black Rhinos, Hippos, Horned Baboons, Leopards and more you will definitely have the experience of a lifetime.

Mt. Kenya

Mt.Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya located in Nyeri County. It is one of the major tourist attractions in Kenya. The Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club at the foot of the mountain is a beautiful and a serene place to kick back and relax. Mountain climbing, rock climbing, hiking, camping; one is spoilt for choice. Up the mountain there are beautiful glacier lakes with pure and fresh water. Further up the mountain you’ll find the magnificent peaks Batian, Nelion and Lenana. At the peaks one can go glacier snow-boarding, with the right supervision of course.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

It was the main palace during the Joseon Dynasty. It served as both the homes of the kings of the Joseon Dynasty and the government of Joseon. It was previously destroyed during the Japanese Invasion but over the years it has slowly been restored to its original state. Tourists flock at the palace to experience Korea’s history and cultural heritage as it houses the National Palace Museum of Korea. The scenery is spectacular and the staff are very kind and dedicated to make your visit a memorable one.

Everland

This is South Korea’s largest theme park located at the Everland Resort in Yongin. There is definitely something for people of all ages. Known for its beautiful scenery, tourists visit the park to experience nature at the garden which has so many different types of flowers and trees. Zootopia is also a must-see with over 2000 animals of 201 species. One can also see the giant Pandas that were given to Korea by the Chinese President Xi Jinping to symbolize the friendship between Korea and China. One can also enjoy rides like the T-Express (the first wooden roller coaster) which is especially popular with young kids. There are festivals all year round which are a great way of experiencing the Korean culture and cuisine. Good food, rides, wildlife and nature, what more do you need!

Busan

Busan is South Korea’s second largest city. There is so much adventure to experience in Busan. It is well known for its beautiful beaches where one can visit the aquarium or play traditional games like tug of war at the Folk Square. Hiking up the mountains is a good way to keep fit while exploring the beautiful country of Korea. Have a feel of Korea’s religion when you visit the Buddhist temples like Beomeosa Temple. Busan also houses museums and historical buildings. Animal lovers can visit Dongbaek Island and take part in bird-watching at the Nakdong River estuary. It is simply amazing.

Jeju Island

Also known as Jejudo. It houses the Hallasan National Park where people go hiking up the Hallasan Mountain. Beautiful beaches, waterfalls, museums, theme parks, caverns and caves are just a few of the places you can visit while in Jeju Island, an experience that is bound to leave you mesmerized.

By Virginia Chege

 

Tales From Graduate School

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Education

South Korea’s distinctive blend of age-old traditions and modernity  makes it a vibrant choice for those wishing to study abroad. The country hosts a number of internationally renowned universities that offer competitive, high quality and well respected education. Young people from developing countries have opted to study there. Many have enrolled, and continue to enroll for graduate studies, thanks to the availability of foreign scholarships. Kenyans have not been left behind. Their enrollment  has steadily been rising. The bridge sought to find out how it is to study and live in S. Korea from  some of these Kenyans. We reached out to four graduate students from KyungPook National  University, Daegu.

 Mutuku Stella Musyawa:

Master of Science (Msc) in Economics

Stella Upon her graduation in July 2017

The  interest of my research concentrates on development economics, focusing on newly industrialized and developing countries. Living outside the comfort of my country’s family and culture has shaped my life, and made me more independent and responsible. This environment has exposed me to people from across the globe, an experience that has shaped my attitude and knowledge on diverse cultures the world over.

Full of passion for studying and the desire for a new experience beyond, was and has remained my motivation for my 3 year study and stay in South Korea. Well, it has been challenging taking all my courses in Korean language but the support of my professors, fellow students, well-equipped resource centers and the dedicated effort  enabled me to overcome the barriers. As a Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP) beneficiary, I had to study Korean language for one year in Busan. Although the pressure from school work would get overwhelming, the experience was way amazing. School is well balanced with frequent field trips that are organized by the language institute. Moreover, because I attended my language school in Busan, which hosts most of the best recreation facilities in South Korea, I had diverse joints to unwind when school work got overwhelming.

Living outside the environs of one’s home implies starting life afresh and it comes with the fear of the unknown. But the world is full of great people and one is able to meet new people, whom with time become friends and then family. I must admit that that life abroad is not a bed of roses but neither is it back at home and each environment comes with its own challenges. A positive attitude to the unknown life beyond home enables one to cope up with the inevitable challenges.  For example, living beyond one’s continent implies that the diet would be totally different and it is in learning how to appreciate different cultures that one enables one to get out of the comfort of their home country meals.

I would recommend students with a desire to study in South Korea to put effort in learning basic Korean via K-Drama, K-Pop, Apps (KoreanLite) and YouTube tutors. Being conversant with the basic Korean implies that you can easily integrate into their society

2. Bernard Ouma Alunda

Ph. D (Doctoral Degree) Department of Mechanical Engineering

My research area looks at the development of a versatile high-speed and hybrid atomic force microscope (AFM) for structural characterization and dynamic observation of samples at nano-/ pico-scale. I have lived in Korea for more than four (4) years. I heard about Kyungpook National University while taking my Masters degree  at Yeungnam University (2010-2012). As a Ph. D student much is expected of me in terms of research. This calls for massive sacrifice that needs one to stay  in the lab for hours. It is a tad draining but what motivates me the most is the passion and the enthusiasm that I have for what I do and the support from my advisor. He is an amazing  and talented individual who believes that we can ace it. To that effect , the amount of time I spend in the laboratory matters less. I get propelled by achievements that I make periodically. Interestingly, I have resorted to labeling the days I  spend sleepless nights, “nightless sleeps” to carry on the grind and make sure the concepts work no matter what. In fact I call my lab a ‘home’ because I spend lots of time in there.

My lab working hours range between 9 a.m. to roughly 2 a.m. Most of the times I get so much absorbed in my work  that I even lose track of time. The experience and the build up of determination, has transformed me into an individual that can handle any sort of engineering task that I am faced with. Basically, Korea is a ‘palipali’ (in Swahili  ‘chap chap’) society where people believe that things ought to be done fast and efficiently. The culture’s inbred  slogan i.e. ‘fighting’ springs from every corner to encourage you whenever things get tough. I would say that South Korea has achieved a lot in terms of technology (IT and Engineering) and several universities as well as research institutes (www.ust.ac.kr) are equipped with the latest facilities to aid in nurturing cutting-edge technology. It would therefore be an interesting place to do your post-graduate studies.

  1. Joseph N. Tinega

Master of Science, (Msc) Environmental and Energy Engineering

Joseph (7th from the Right) during the launch of Kenya Corner at Kyungpook University

Being humans we tend to slip into comfort quite easily. Traveling/studying in a foreign country is an exemplary way to step out of this comfort zone. I did my fair share of that in 2014 when I came to the Republic of Korea. Since then, the experiences and challenges that I have met  have  helped in rediscovering my passion and capabilities. They have shaped and built my character too. For instance, upon admission for my MSc I came across some part time Korean post graduate students, probably in their 30s, most of who were industrialists.

 

These students introduced me to their industries which resonated well with my studies, summing up the uniqueness of my study experience and its form of practicality. The visits had a lasting impression on me. I was more immersed  and practical into Korea’s industry, which is mostly heavy and chemical, factors  that have been the backbone of their great economic growth. To add, their work ethos and ethic, just-do-it spirit, and emphasis on efficiency by using the latest forms of technology (an example could be the use of robots in the production  systems) was such a great observation. With my life-long dream of being an industrialist, this was  an eye opener. Nevertheless, because the country is not a resource rich nation, their greatest resource has been  the human capital. Industrialists here have a drive or cultural desire to catch up with the West or being at the fore front of innovation/ invention.

Although Korean people have an intense work lifestyle and less social, one could choose to adopt some of the best values, skills and technological know-how, and then replicate them back at home. That could inspire and invigorate our economy. I have learnt, still learning and look forward to displaying the same once I am back in Kenya.

  1. Agumba Dickens Owino

Masters of Science (Msc), Advanced Mechanical Engineering

Studying abroad has become the dream of many students seeking to pursue their academic careers outside the confines of their home. Well, such an opportunity gives one the added advantage of exploring the world. Thus, it provides  a unique way of enriching our education, general knowledge and outlook on life. South Korea is a great option if you would opt to study abroad.

The academic environment here is highly competitive. This keeps you on toes. A wide variety of courses are on offer and therefore an international student  will easily find an area to tap into. To crown it all, the Korean government and the individual universities offer far much better scholarship opportunities for top performing international students. For those seeking to study abroad, I highly recommend the Republic of  Korea.