Staff members chosen for South Korea study-abroad program

When Betha Whitlow, curator of visual resources in the Department of Art History and Archeology in Arts & Sciences, found out she had been chosen to travel to South Korea as part of the Global Diversity Overseas Seminar (GDOS), she was “absolutely thrilled, honored and even a bit surprised.”

“I’m usually pretty reserved about announcing good news when it happens for me,” she said, “but I pretty much called out this from the rooftops.”

Whitlow is among five Washington University in St. Louis staff members selected for this year’s GDOS program. Joining her are:

  • Rhonda Kiely, assistant director for residential life;
  • Steve Pijut, associate director of The Writing Center;
  • Christopher Presley, academic and student services adviser for the BSBA program in Olin Business School; and
  • Stephanie Weiskopf, coordinator of student involvement.

The program is a professional development opportunity for staff that looks at diversity from a global perspective. Past GDOS cohorts have traveled to Ghana, Chile, Paris and Shanghai.

The Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea, will be one of the cultural treasures visited by the next GDOS cohort from Washington University. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This month, participants begin meeting every other week to discuss assigned readings on topics such as South Korea’s history, role in Asia, culture, religion, popular culture, education system and gender roles.

Each participant will write two posts for the group blog and attend one St. Louis cultural event. The group also will meet with international students from South Korea and faculty whose research focuses on Korea.

The trip is June 4-11. While in South Korea, the group will visit Washington University partner universities Yonsei University and Seoul National University, meet with Washington University alumni living in Seoul, enjoy traditional Korean meals and attend a local arts performance.

The group also will see historical and cultural sites such as the National Folk Museum of Korea, the Insadong Market, the Seoul Tower and the Gyeongbokgung Palace. They also may take a day trip to Panmunjon, at the Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea.

After the trip, participants focus on final assignments and developing and implementing an educational outreach campaign to share insights with the greater Washington University community.

Pijut said he was very excited when he learned he had been chosen.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity, and I’m honored to be taking part,” Pijut said. “I’ve worked with a number of Korean students in The Writing Center, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a better understanding of their country and culture.”