University of Canberra Korean Society
It’s taken for granted that universities sponsor official societies or clubs which provide social circles of belonging and fun to students, staff and the public.
Faculty clubs cater to students enrolled in the same areas of study. Sporting clubs are available for athletic individuals. Social clubs look after people’s unique interests, but culture clubs have an air of exclusivity that suggests one must be of a particular culture – both religiously and racially – to join and participate.
However, Thomas Kim, the public relations manager of the University of Canberra Korean Society (UCKS), states that this is not the case with his new club that was founded late last year. In Ho Suh caught up with Kim to find out more about this newcomer to the university social scene.
How did the formation of the new club come about?
Thomas Kim: It started in the library when I was talking with Mirae, our current club president, about the idea of officially creating a Korean Society. Knowing that students from Gangnam University would no longer be arriving, I suggested to Mirae “What if we start putting together Korean students and Australian students and give them an opportunity to talk to one other?” The biggest difficulty as an international student in a new country is English, and while you’re here there aren’t many opportunities to make Australian friends. Korean students have difficulty approaching other students fearing the language barrier. Knowing a few Australian students with an interest in our culture, especially in k-pop, I thought it would be a good idea to create a community of learning for both cultures.
Wasn’t there already a Korean Club here at University?
TK: No, well sort of. There was already a Korean club but it was unofficial without a proper structure. Because of that it was very exclusive – it only had Korean members. It wasn’t really meant for helping them with English or anything like that. It really only worked like a giant social group for Korean students.
What do you mean students were no longer arriving from Gangnam University?
TK: I was a part of the pathway program from Gangnam University. Near the end of high school, people from the university actively promoted the program. It was to spend one year in Korea and the rest transferred into a degree in University of Canberra. They sent us in waves every year. The pathway program supposedly ended last year and the 80 students who came last year were the last batch, at least from Gangnam.
What is this pathway program?
TK: So essentially I studied English and accounting towards a diploma back in Korea at Gangnam University for one year. When I got here, for ten weeks I went through another English studying program at University of Canberra College which you would need to pass. If you fail three times you would have to go back.
Have you failed?
So what does the Society do exactly?
TK: We had a successful recruitment at the beginning of the year. We had a shaved ice stand outside the refectory with a lot of people who have joined. We had a welcoming party at the international house which was a lot of fun. There was also a K-pop dance party on the 8th with a DJ and everything which was cool. We also have movie nights where we vote on a genre of Korean movie to show. Other than fun and games we also run Korean lessons roughly twice a month.
So all you do is play?
TK: Well the goal of the club was to create a community where Koreans learn to freely interact in English and the domestic members can learn and participate in our culture. What better way to do this while everyone is having fun together!
Any future plans for the club?
TK: We are currently planning future events such as MT (Membership Training) to maybe the Snowy Mountains for one night during the holidays. We haven’t talked about it yet but it could be nice to see our club be a place where we can help the students academically, mainly with their English. But we are still new and have the rest of the semester, the holidays and next semester to improve the club further.