By William Downey – KKOOM Board Member
The KKOOM Board of Directors convened July 17-19 for its annual retreat in Chicago, and it was the first opportunity for some of us to meet in person. It was nice to meet the folks I have been meeting with virtually, and it was great to be back in Chicago for the first time since 2007!
I grew up in Michigan so the hot, humid summer days accompanied by the obligatory afternoon thunderstorm is a familiar weather pattern. Chicago did not disappoint as the temperatures Friday went into the 90s and a dramatic thunderstorm Saturday afternoon more than fulfilled my need to walk down memory lane! KKOOM Chicago 2015 kicked-off on Saturday with a full day of topics to cover. Emphasis was placed on a thorough review of our past projects and where our focus should be placed going forward.
A major highlight of the weekend was a Skype session with JD, a student studying at Boston University this summer, Ms. Soonok Park, house mother/social welfare worker and Jaeho Lee, formerly a resident of the Samsungwon orphanage who recently completed his Master’s of Divinity. It was great to get their input on KKOOM programs and insightful suggestions as to what things they think KKOOM can do to help. Their feedback on KKOOM was encouraging and a validation that our projects and the organization is an important part of the lives of the children and young adults we seek to serve.
JD’s U.S. visit is nearing its midpoint with the Boston University program as he enters his third week of the six-week English program. Jindong did well on his placement test when he arrived and is finding the class level he has been assigned to in the program a challenge and very helpful in building his listening and speaking skills. As a business major, good language skills will give him the confidence he needs to succeed in a very competitive, international business environment. My impression has been he is studying hard and getting the most out of his time in the United States.
I had a chance this past weekend to get directly involved in supporting him in one of those activities. As with any academic program, there is always work to be done outside of the classroom and JD’s program is no exception. He had to prepare a meal with a focus on using relevant vocabulary and had to capture his instructions for preparing the meal to video. Of course, he has to speak in English! I would say that the video was a success but as for the meal…well, it is good he is a business major!
I have noticed a dramatic improvement in his ability to speak and listen to English and know it will continue to improve as his visit in the United States continues. The ability to improve language skills requires this type of immersion in a culture of the target language. You really need this kind of exposure to master not only the practical aspects of daily language usage but also the nuance of vocabulary and regional differences.
This is the first time KKOOM has sponsored a study abroad program and Jindong has proved to be a good choice for our first candidate!
Stay tuned for more reports!