For the first time, Harlem Prep High hosted 20 South Korean student visitors from the Haewon School located in Incheon, South Korea.
The day began with an assembly to welcome the visitors and a presentation of a video produced by Democracy Prep scholars. The video gave a tour of HPH and explained classroom structures and the school’s behavioral expectations.
Several HPH scholars spoke about what the Korean language means to them and their love of K-pop, a type of Korean music.
“I have wanted to learn Korean since the 9th grade,” HPH scholar Pamela Ramirez told the visitors. “I enjoy learning about the Korean way of living because it is so different than ours, like their music. I would love for you to enjoy your stay in the United States, and I hope you guys come again!”
The visit had a significant meaning for HPH director Greg Daniel. In his opening remarks, Mr. Daniel shared a personal anecdote about his time studying abroad in Japan, and how he never could have guessed the impact it would have on his life.
“You have no idea what this day could turn into,” Daniel said. “Today is not the day to be shy about speaking Korean. Use today to show-off all of your hard work and practice the language.”
Each student visiting from South Korea was partnered with an HPH scholar for the day. After the assembly, the South Korean students attended their HPH partner’s next three academic classes.
The day concluded with a group lunch of tacos, a food familiar to both the Korean students and HPH scholars. “You gotta try the guac!” implored HPH scholar Robert Gomez to his partner Jun-young Song. The verdict? “It’s good!”
Even though the day started quietly with many students feeling shy or nervous, by lunchtime, the scholars and visitors were speaking in both English and Korean, asking earnest questions about each other’s culture and experience in South Korea and America. Laughter erupted throughout lunch, and of course, scholars from both schools took many selfies together.
The impact of the visit on the HPH scholars was evident throughout the day, but especially after the South Korean students departed.
“I already miss my buddy!” said HPH scholar Rubyana Pierre. “I have a whole new respect for Korea.”