Language Barriers Are Nothing
- Choi Hyeon-ran, An Intern at Gwangju International Center -
By Kim Han-na, Tribune Reporter
Do you have foreign friends? Or have you ever talked with foreigners? It is very difficult for people who do not speak the same language to communicate. Unlike most of us, here is a person who has undertaken this difficult task with a big smile. The Chonnam Tribune met this special Chonnam National University (CNU) student who is interning at the Gwangju International Center (GIC) this semester. GIC is one of the representative NGOs located in Gwangju and it organizes various support programs with comprehensive information about Korea.
Choi Hyeon-ran (Junior, Dept. of English Language and Literature) could have worked as an on-job trainee without taking a semester off from school. Instead, she took time off from school. When I asked why she did, she said, “Working at the GIC requires a lot of effort and time, and I wanted to focus on the GIC more than anything else.” At first, she started doing basic office work such as assisting senior staff members, translation, and planning events. However, she preferred to communicate with people and experience the atmosphere of real work in the field.
Fortunately, during the last six months, there were many big events. She said, “I participated in the planning and proceeds of the 2010 Asia Culture Forum which was held for the first time in Gwangju, and the Gwangju Tour for International Students. It was very hard to do, so I put a lot of hard work and effort into those programs. After I finished those special occasions successfully, I was very proud of myself.” During the interview, I could sense her enthusiasm from her smile and gestures. In particular, she reminisced about the recently-held Gwangju Tour for International Students. She said, “It was a good chance to meet various international students. We taught each other our languages. At that time, our conversation was ridiculous, for example, 'Glad to see you, watasiwa [Japanese] Hyeon-ran ieyo [Korean]'.” She still keeps in contact with many foreign friends she met there through the social networking service Facebook.
Hyeon-ran has obtained many lessons and experiences such as how to treat people or to plan events. While being actively involved in those occasions, she got over her apprehension towards interacting with foreigners. She said, ”Through the Gwangju Tour for International Students, I realized that the language barrier is not a serious problem. If I try to approach first with open heart, I can communicate with anyone.” Now, she has just one event left ahead, a New Year’s Eve Party and then she will finish her internship at the GIC. She hopes she can continue to help foreigners. I was very impressed with here genuine desire to communicate with all people, local or foreign. Lastly, she recommends that CNUians participate in events involving foreigners that are held in Gwangju, including the GIC’s events. She also said, “If you have an open mind to foreigners, you can understand each other easily.”