Centre alumnus leads youth diplomacy program in Korea
RELEASED: May 29, 2008
The Middle School Youth Diplomacy Program (MSYDP), a youth initiative designed to encourage motivated students to pursue careers in the field of diplomacy, is holding its first conference June 4 and 5 in Seoul, the country's capital. The program is the first of its kind and will offer students an opportunity to meet with U.S. Embassy officials, tour Sogang University to speak with graduate students in the field of international studies, and participate in a diplomacy simulation. The conference will be conducted almost entirely in English, giving the students a chance to practice their language skills while learning more about international politics.
Eason began work on the project when she and other Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship recipients (ETA) noticed a trend among many of their pupils—a desire to engage in diplomacy.
"We started discussing the possibility of creating a program that would not only encourage these students in the study of international relations, but would also provide a positive channel for cultural exchange between the United States and the next generation of Korean leaders," Eason says.
So far, the program has been met with "unbelievable enthusiasm." She says that of the 20 students accepted into the program, 95 originally applied from eleven different schools across the island province of Jeju-do. In addition, the U.S. embassy has provided Eason and her fellow organizers with both the financial wherewithal to conduct the program and the organizational support to make it a success.
Eason sites her relationships and experiences at Centre as having contributed to the success of the MSYDP thus far.
"My advisor, Dr. Nayef Samhat, helped create in me a deep respect for the diplomatic process as a crucial and mutually beneficial instrument, one that could work to the advantage of all parties involved, while at the same time giving me a realistic view of the difficulties such a process can entail," she says.
Eason also recognizes the influence of the Bonner program, through which she says she "gained experience in project management, community organizing, fundraising and grant writing."
She continues, "Working with Bonner gave me almost unbelievable opportunities for both social entrepreneurship and leadership, opportunities that I would never have had at a larger school."
For Eason, this work is an extension of her Centre experience. The MSYDP is a way for her to not only promote dialogue between the United States and Korea, but also to gain and utilize greater knowledge about different perspectives on diplomacy.
"If there's one thing I learned from Centre," she says, "it's the necessity of staying on level ground and the benefits that arise from shared experience. In no way do I see this as any form of help, and even the term 'service' is a bit misleading; rather, I'm trying to create an opportunity for people on both sides to learn from each other, in much the way that my professors and mentors at Centre did with me."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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