by Elizabeth Bannan
Northsiders looking into colleges or universities to attend in the next few year know that one of the highlights of school tours and information sessions are the opportunities to study abroad. Most college students aspire to spend some time in a foreign country, but a few lucky high schoolers get a sneak peek into those exhilarating experiences before college. At Northside, we have a couple of elite exchange programs, each of which offer different experiences and learning opportunities.
This year, a small group of Northside juniors and seniors participated in a program in partnership with Korea Science Academy, or KSA, an international school in South Korea. Each Northside student was paired up with a senior from South Korea who visited Chicago last winter. Those students attended homecoming and explored the city, but, by the time Northsiders visited South Korea over spring break, their former exchange buddies had graduated. The Northsiders were assigned new students to guide them around the city. Usually most exchange programs include a homestay experience, but on this trip Northsiders stayed in dorms with one another for eight days.
After taking a long flight across the ocean, Northsiders landed in South Korea and were greeted by a new group of excited friends. Almost every student at KSA International School spoke “perfect English,” said Loraine Johnston, Adv. 707. Although a few Northsiders knew how to say hello and thank you from experience in dance groups at Northside, the majority did not speak Hangul at all. However, they were still able to go out with their students, sing karaoke, and try all types of new food. Some students even made and tried kimchi pancakes. For a day trip, the group took a 200 mph bullet train to Seoul, went shopping, and explored the city.
Although students like Kaela Ryan, Adv. 705, and Rasa Kerelis, Adv. 703, had already traveled abroad previously, they still counted their trip to South Korea as a unique and life-changing experience. Not only did they witness the beauty of South Korea, featured in the photograph taken by Ryan, but they were also able to experience the daily school life of their exchange buddies. After following their assigned peers, Northsiders were left impressed. KSA International School has “amazing facilities and resources,” said Johnston. Every teacher in the Math and Science Department has a PhD from a prestigious institution. The research equipment in the laboratory is state-of-the-art and is housed within a nine-story building that is solely dedicated to science. The building also includes a beautiful observatory with telescopes and a retractable roof.
It is easy to say this trip was the adventure of a lifetime. However, beyond the anecdotes and experiences, this trip has had a deeper impact on the Northsiders who went abroad. It includes a first-hand encounter with a culture completely different from their norm and the opportunity to be completely independent in a foreign country. Now, these students have a unique world-view they can bring back to Northside. For seniors, this is just a stepping stone to what is to come.
If you are interested in participating in this program or a similar exchange next year, speak to Mr. Charles Milbert, Social Science Department, or Mr. Alexander Hughes, Counseling Department, about how to get involved.