“A friend in need is a friend indeed”. This is a famous proverb in English that means a friend who helps you when you really need help is a true friend. Especially, foreign exchange students face challenges adapting to life in Korea when they first arrive due to the language, culture, and people. Therefore, Sookmyungians who aspired to become “good” friends to newly arriving foreign exchange students founded the club GPM to make their relocation to Korea easier and to ensure they enjoy Korean culture. The Sookmyung Times met the heads of GPM, Choi Najeong and Lim Miji.
Q. GPM sounds like an interesting club. I’m sure our readers would love to hear about your club and its purpose.
GPM stands for Global Peer Mentor, and it belongs to the Sookmyung International Cooperation Team. Members mentor foreign exchange students by spending time with them so that exchange students learn to adapt well to Korean society and enjoy their stay while in Korea. Mentors are often involved in helping them create their course timetable, register for courses, understand announcements, and so on. We host various events throughout the semester to increase friendship and closeness among club members and exchange students. Specifically, the club members hold three semesterly meetings, publish an interim report, and organize an end-of-semester party. The club divided itself into three divisions: study, volunteer, and cultural experience. However, the demand for joining cultural experience events with the exchange student community was so great that members all participated in that division.
Q. GPM sounds like a great way for foreign exchange students and Sookmyungians to interact. Would you share some core aspects of GPM that distinguishes it from other similar clubs?
In all honesty, it is really hard for Korean students to interact with foreign students on campus, besides taking English language classes together. However, this club gathers and connects students from all nations. In addition to regular meetings, the club sets up 1:1 connections between Sookmyungians and foreign exchange students so that they can meet off campus and travel to various cultural places or participate in language exchanges. Multiculturalism is a big focus of our club because members share their homeland cultures, geography, and history. Several members in our volunteer division share their home nation’s traditional customs and instruments with young children when they head out for volunteer work at daycare centers. Also, by joining the club’s study division, members actively participate in discussion on various topics of interest. Most of the talks are about international issues, so students develop their critical thinking skills and see issues from others’ perspectives. Finally, korean members increase their understanding of Korean culture since members must study about Korea in order to introduce Korea’s beauty to non-Koreans. Whenever members present Korean culture, they gain a sense of pride as Korean.
Q. Thank you for granting us this interview. Before leaving you, would you like to leave any final words for your fellow Sookmyungians?
Hopefully I have enticed some of you to join GPM or participate in our events. Most of our planned events for this semester will be held on Friday evenings. However, if you decide to join the club, please consider your promise and responsibility wisely. GPM asks that you should be present, confident, passionate and support of all projects and members in GPM. I should also mention that English is not a requirement. Indeed, English is a bonus, but even foreign exchange students are not always great English speakers. After submitting an application to join GPM, members will hold brief interviews. GPM gives students a great opportunity to meet others on campus, both domestic locals and international students, so don’t hesitate.