UCO Opens Office in South Korea to Enhance Global Opportunities for Students
Weldon Rice knows what it’s like to set foot in an unfamiliar land thousands of miles away from home. As a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, the Marlow, Okla., native studied overseas in South Korea, even earning one of the university’s first Global Competency Certificates.
Now, as a graduate, he is heading the university’s first international office overseas, hoping to help other Central students looking to broaden their cultural horizons.
Located at Inje University in the southeast part of South Korea, the office is the first of its kind at an Oklahoma institution of higher learning. Rice will help Central students studying in the country to adjust and succeed while also recruiting students from Korea who are interested in studying abroad at Central.
“I am ready for this opportunity,” said Rice. “I really love the country. The university is tucked away in the mountains. It is very tranquil and the environment is nothing like what I experienced growing up in Marlow.”
The office is an extension of Central’s diverse international services, including its Centre for Global Competency. The goal is to prepare students to communicate effectively in a complex world, to function in multiple and diverse environments, and to adapt to the continuously changing global society.
Dennis Dunham, Ph.D., executive director of International Services at Central, said the office is also key part of the university’s international recruiting strategy, as South Korea is one of Central’s targeted areas.
“For the program to be successful we really need a UCO office employee to follow up with periodically though out the year. I can’t think of anyone better for the job,” said Dunham.
Dunham developed solid relations with universities in South Korea after being stationed there as a Peace Corps member. Those relationships led to Central securing a partnership with Inje University providing housing for Rice and space for the UCO office.
He added that the decision to work with Korea is reinforced by it’s highly established economy and advanced technology relative to other less developed nations making it more comparable to the U.S., a sentiment with which Rice agrees.
“The environment is very similar to here. It is clean, modern, and highly advanced, but there is still a lot of traditional culture to be seen,” said Rice.
Central’s study abroad program has students located in eight countries and aims to teach students to be culturally competent and able to interact in meaningful and productive ways with those of different cultures.
Currently, Central has two students studying in Korea, but Dunham said he hopes to have 30 or more in 18 months.
“Our study abroad program in Korea will be one of the university’s strongest programs. This will enhance students college experience by providing an innovative learning environment for students away from Central’s main campus,” said Dunham.
For more information on Centrals study abroad program visit www.uco.edu/cgc or call Central’s Centre for Global Competency at 405-974-2390.