Many students learn foreign languages, from English to Chinese, Japanese, French and German, but it is hard to experience foreign countries’ culture within Korea. Here are some students who especially enjoy foreign languages. They all major in a second language. Through their activities in students´associations, find out how they enjoy learning a second language and culture.
French Language & Culture
Poetry and Chanson Night
The Poetry and Chanson Night is one of the biggest events which take place in September. It is held differently every other year. One year, students put on a play which is all in French and the next year, they recite French poems and sing French songs. In 2007, the play La Cantatrice Chauve was performed, and in 2008 the musical Don Juan was shown. The literary production is recommended by professors in advance, and after the
students´association has a meeting, they make all the preparation from choosing actors and crew to directing during the summer vacation. The chance of being an actor is given to everyone so the department advertises for actors. The students´association is divided into planning, public relations and technology divisions. The manager of each division helps out in areas which are needed for a play. Most practices happen in the summer vacation, during which students receive guidance in all areas, from reading the script and pronunciation to acting. The following is an interview with the chairman of French Language & Culture, Kim Bo-mi (KIM).
SMT How is the Poetry and Chanson Night of help to students?
KIM First of all, I think this event is the best way to improve French ability. As we receive direction about acting and pronunciation from professors, it provides beneficial lessons for students. And through the play practice, students not only can build relationships with seniors and juniors but can spend their vacation time fruitfully.
SMT Please give advice to students who don’t take part in division activities.
KIM I want to tell them that the more division events they take part in, the more advantageous it is, because
students can have new experiences and learn numerous things. For example, through the Poetry and Chanson Night, we can get the chance to try the flavor of French wine from Beaujolais Nouveau and improve our French skills, meet friends and build up our social network.
Original Language Drama Club ‘Aither’
Aither (アイテル) is an original language drama club. This year, it assumes the position of the representative learning society as it has been running for nine years in the Japanese Studies division which is 11 years old. It is named ‘Aither’ after the goddess of heaven in a classical Japanese myth. There is a wish to develop it more and more in its name. Any student whose major or second major is Japanese Studies can join Aither regardless of their grade. Entry is always possible but officially entry application is in March. The club now has 15 members
and 6 new students. Freshmen and seniors are the main members. Their most important activity is the Japanese
subscription play which takes place in September. Until now, Aither has performed eight plays— Awareness of
Queen (‘01), Air (‘02), Headache, Shoulderpain, Higuchi Ichiyo (‘03), Dressing Room (‘04), London Bridge
Collapsed (‘05), If I were you (‘06), Tonight is Bungalow Until We Die (‘07), Beautiful Shine (‘08) and this September, the ninth play will be performed. The following is an interview with the president of Aither, Song So-ra (SONG).
SMT Please explain the process leading up to performing a play.
SONG Aither’s subscription play is held in September so from April, we start to prepare. The hardest thing about putting on an original language play is selecting the play. Finding scripts written in Japanese is difficult so this stage took a long time. From April to June, all members look for scripts individually and decide on one script. Real ractice starts in the summer vacation. At this time, the parts are divided among the actors and the technical crew is assigned their tasks. The actors practice for about six hours with the director, including memorizing lines, studying movement and vocal exercises on the 6th floor of the student union building. While the actors practice,
the technical crew reads the script carefully and prepares the set design, lighting, and costumes. Specially, Aither
takes pride in its Korean subtitles. In their society, students translate subtitles which are projected onto a screen during the play, so people who don’t know Japanese can also enjoy the play.
SMT Is there any special reason why you joined Aither?
SONG In my case, I was interested in acting, but the final reason was to improve my Japanese skills. I can
experience performing in the play while cooperating with many people which is a rare experience, and improve my
Japanese ability at the same time. Actually, the seniors who didn’t know about Hiragana showed great improvement in their Japanese skills throughout the process of the play. I was an actor in the 7th play and played the title role in the 8th play. After each play was over, I certainly felt my Japanese skills had improved. In particular, when I was an actor, while practicing I memorized not only my lines but also other actor’s lines, so I came to have better Japanese communication skills.
Chinese Language & Literature
The Society of Chinese Theater (Wanna Be Play)
The department of Chinese Language and Literature hold two annual events, the ‘Chinese Play’ and the ‘Scientific
Festival,’ every alternate September. The Chinese Play was performed by the Society of Chinese Theater, while the
Scientific Festival was held under the sponsorship of the Academic Culture Society. Freshmen in the department of
Chinese Language and Literature can choose to belong to one of these three societies such as the Society of Chinese play, the Society of Academic Culture, the Society of Planning & Public Relations. Every semester, the Wanna Be Play hosts the ‘Homecoming Day’ for seniors who graduated from Sookmyung Women’s University. In March, they have a social meeting for undergraduates. They also have a motto, "Wanna Be Play is faithful!" that symbolizes their society’s atmosphere. Chai Kyu-ri (CHAI) and Park Sang-yean (PARK), two representatives of
Wanna Be Play, tell a more specific story about the 2008 Chinese Play.
SMT Do you have regular meetings or preparations for the play which is held every other year?
CHAI Wanna Be Play always has a regular meeting at 5 P.M. every Wednesday for planning the play and romoting friendship. In the year when we don’t put on a play, students of the society watch plays or musicals and experience Chinese food and culture together. But in the year we put on a play, from March to May, we select plays and choose actresses through an audition at the end of May. After the summer vacation starts, at the end of June, we rush into preparation. A Lingua Express professor helps us to play with correct pronunciation first and later graduate students take over. In spare moments, we modify the script. Then we memorize the whole script completely over about two weeks and rehearse the play during the rest of the time. Wanna Be Play’s production and planning is the role of senior students. We follow general orders that are decided by the senior who is the producer. Finally, a play director and an actor who are currently working in Daehak-Ro direct in depth. For three months during the summer vacation, we practice hard every day and become best friends to each other.
SMT What is the best value you can obtain through participating in the Chinese Play?
PARK The worries about devoting such a long time, the whole summer vacation, to the Chinese Play and articipating in the Society of Chinese Theater which has such a high domestic and foreign reputation, make joining not an easy decision for anybody, because we feel that we may lessen the society’s fame as well as give up the intensive study which we can usually do during the vacation. But we never regretted our choice. All the preparation, from the summer vacation to September 19th-20th when we showed our efforts on stage — every
day from morning until late evening— including my first experiences with vocal exercises, hard sit-ups, a Chinese script and emotional play practice were always enjoyable. Sometimes I felt sad and depressed or wanted to throw up because of the burden of being a Wanna Be Play promoter, the hard practice until midnight, the lack of improvement in our acting, or conflicts of opinions. But these situations all taught us the way to understand others, methods of believing in and leaning from each other, having responsibility and knowing the value of others. Also, the play rehearsals improved our Chinese ability. What the society gave to me was not only an improvement in my Chinese ability but also unforgettable remembrances and significant peers.
The best among a lot of good memories is just our bodies appearing on stage. Nobody knows the feeling of that strong expression and gladness you get on stage, hearing the audience clapping and cheering, and when I acted with a beating heart, being under the spotlight. At that moment, we who were all amateurs forgot our harsh and tiring rehearsals. If I could return to the time when I chose to participate in Wanna Be Play, I would willingly join the society, because I know it is an uncommon opportunity for university students to make costumes and props themselves, to do production and planning, and to appear on a large stage. Above all things, last year, the time when we prepared the play was so enjoyable and happy that we shouted resoundingly to everybody that our choice was most excellent.
German Language & Literature
The department of German Language and Literature holds a festival called ‘Oktoberfest,’ once a year. Also they
have a biennial event in the first week of September called the ‘German Play’ which is held under the auspices of the German Drama Study group. The German student government has three departments which are the Play
Department (Germany drama study), the Academic Department, and the Culture Planning Department. The Culture
Planning Department is in charge of Oktoberfest, but in fact, all departments take part in preparing the festival.
Oktoberfest takes place with the participation of all students of German Language and Literature. Please read a
more specific interview with Lee Ji-eun (LEE) who is a representative of German Drama Study and is in charge of all the events held by the department of German Language and Literature.
SMT Please introduce Oktoberfest and some details about the festival.
LEE Oktoberfest is a global festival which is also well-known in Korea as a beer festival. It is held from the end of the September until the beginning of October in Munich (Munchen), Germany. In our department of German Language and Literature, Oktoberfest is held under the sponsorship of our students, professors, and Haeoreum, an alumni association, in about the middle of October. Basically, the festival includes the freshmen German traditional dancing performance, a recitation of German poems, singing German songs, and students’ entertainments. After those events, we open the Oktoberfest with traditional German sausages, bread, beer, and other food which is made by ourselves. In addition, we exhibit photos of the events of the past year.
SMT What preparation is needed for those events? And how are the students’ participation and response going?
LEE During Oktoberfest the most typical performance is the German traditional dancing by the freshmen. The freshmen are taught traditional dancing by seniors a month before the festival and prepare for Oktoberfest. During that course, students make themselves familiar with German and develop an attachment to German Language and Literature. Every year there is intense competition for the dance performance, which means that students’ response and participation are overflowing with enthusiasm. Also, German exchange students from German Konstaz and Bamgerg which have a sisterhood relationship with SMU, recite German poems together. It improves connectedness and intimacy between the students, so their response is good. As Germany’s representative festival,
Oktoberfest has the standard objective that students of German Language and Literature can experience German culture and tradition directly through informational experience which they can feel with their whole bodies. We are
proud of our students’ great participation and response.
SMT Are any other events planned by the department of German Language and Literature in 2009?LEE This year, one of the biggest events was the visit to SMU by Dr. Norbert Bass, the German Ambassador to Korea. On May 15, 2009, he gave an invitational lecture and had a meeting with President Young Sil Han. Our students had a tea party with him, sharing German traditional bread, looking at German books and a photo exhibition, and showing students’ activities displayed in the front yard of Centennial Hall. In addition, this year, we don’t have a German play, so the German Drama Study students are attending lectures on ‘German Drama Appreciation,’ and they are studying German literature and plays. They select German literature with their
professor and practice an adaptation or production of the literature. Besides this, Oktoberfest 2009 will be held one day on September.