Articles From the February 1995 Unification News


The "Study-in-Korea Program" and Personal Growth: Teenagers Come to Understand their Roots

by Stephen Wright-College Park, MD

If you've heard of the Study-in-Korea Program, you probably thought it was primarily an opportunity to have some interesting experiences in a different country, learn some Korean, and maybe visit a few buildings that have something to do with the founding of our church. The program does include living and learning in a country and culture very different from our own, learning ten times more Korean, the language of our scripture and descendant thought (sasang), than one could learn without going there, and lots of field trips some of which give students a chance to see important historical Unification Church landmarks

The real value of the program, however, goes far beyond these features. When parents think about the education of their children, it is natural for them to want their children to have experiences that will be conducive to intellectual and spiritual development. I believe this program may offer the best combination of these two aspects that I have seen in my two decades of Unification Church life

Spiritual Development

Those of us who found depth and inspiration in our founder, his teachings, and his movement naturally hope that others we know (and most of all our children) might benefit from the profound value we've experienced. Around the time children become teenagers, they really start thinking seriously about some of the important questions in life, including religious questions, questions about themselves and their roles, and perhaps questions like "Do I really believe in God?" and "Do I really want to be a member of the Unification Church?" Experiencing meaning and vitality as we did is not automatic-each person is endowed by God with an apportionment of responsibility to be a co-creator of the person he or she will become, and makes thousands of decisions affecting the course of spiritual, or faith, development

A very important factor for teenagers is peer influence. Ideally, our children should have the opportunity to be around and to make friends with other second-generation children. Repeatedly, the blessed children have testified that when they are with each other they feel free to be themselves and to be natural, rather than feeling pressure to conform to values that are artificial and that they do not share, like most of the ones they encounter at school. The value of a context where second-generation children can be together with each other should not be underestimated. Their interaction is more than just having a good time; without realizing it, they are contributing to the building of a new culture, a shimjong culture

There is another important benefit of the Study-in-Korea Program that may be hard for those who haven't had the opportunity to live in Korea for an extended period to understand fully. While Unificationism has qualities of universality unsurpassed by other systems of thought, it has also benefited immeasurably from the richness of oriental, and in particular, Korean, culture. Though our church's providential historical roots are Judeo-Christian, it was born in the soil of Korea. There is subtlety and depth in this culture which has nourished and informed our tradition in ways that one can naturally come to appreciate through living in Korea, but that might be difficult to understand otherwise

More concretely, the program provides a situation in which one's life of faith can be cultivated, taking place in the context of daily prayer and regular religious education such as Sunday school and Principle study, and set in a culture more oriented toward the songsang, and thus more supportive, than is normally the case in the West

Intellectual Development

There is a good balance between the religious and the academic. Sonhwa Middle School and Sonhwa High School (home of the Little Angels-Sonhwa School was originally founded as "The Little Angels' School"), are magnet schools, and are rated among the best few schools in Korea for drawing top students for admission. The academic standard of the program created especially for our (foreign) students has developed and is quite strong. In my experience, blessed children are generally above average intellectually and in terms of their potential to excel academically. This is magnified further by the increasing selectivity due to growing numbers of applicants.

Like the situation at magnet schools or selective colleges, where there are many good students, the Study-in-Korea Program is intellectually stimulating and challenging. Students also normally receive full academic credit upon returning to their home countries for their time spent studying in Korea, including in many cases those that attend for several years. The Study-in-Korea Program consists of several stages of study opportunities

The "General Orientation Program" runs for one academic year (10 1/2 months), from the beginning of September to the middle of July. It is a general introduction to Korea, to Korean culture, and to the Korean language. Intensive Korean study (about three to four classroom hours per day with very capable instructors) is complemented by classes (taught by qualified western teachers) in Math, English Literature, Social Studies (Korean culture, including the Unification Church in Korea), and Physical Education.

For qualified students who wish to attend Sonhwa Middle School, there is a 6-month "Preparation Program" tailored specifically to this purpose, which consists in large part of intensive Korean study including an introduction to the textbooks that will actually be used in the first year of Middle School. After entering Middle School in March, the students attend regular classes with Korean students, where the normal curriculum of Korean schools is studied: mathematics, science, history, literature, social studies, ethics, physical education, music, art, etc. Students also choose a particular arts concentration such as music, voice, dance, or painting. A very few students go on to attend Sonhwa Arts High School


A school yearbook entitled International Blessed Children in Korea tells the story of the blessed children who were studying at the Sonhwa School in Korea in '91 and '92. Made by the students, there are a lot of pictures, testimonies, and explanations of experiences-a great way to get a look at the program from the students' point of view 62 pages, 8 1/4 x 11 1/2 inch format. $5.00 includes shipping (overseas: airmail-$9, by boat-$6)

Send a check or money order made out to "Korean Studies Scholarship Fund" to Stephen Wright at the address in the inset box


If your son or daughter was born between 1/1/82 and 12/31/83 and is in the sixth or seventh grade (not having repeated a year), and would like to go to Korea this September, please contact Tom or Carolyn Burkholder, or your regional representative (see inset box). The application deadline is March 31-please pass the word!

Financial Support

This program has always been partially funded by scholarship money provided by the founder of Sonhwa School, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Because many other of his philanthropic endeavors are competing for attention, and with increasing numbers of participants in the program, however, the cost to the parents of the teenagers who go has gradually increased.

One of the ideals in the founding of this program was that blessed children from around the world would have the opportunity to study together in the homeland of their faith. It's a shame that the children of some of our most dedicated brothers and sisters, giving themselves wholeheartedly to their work in the difficult environment of a third world country, are effectively excluded because of financial constraints.

The need is also pressing for many American students. If you feel you can contribute to this worthwhile investment in our future, please send a check or money order for any amount made out to "Korean Studies Scholarship Fund" to Tom or Carolyn Burkholder (see inset box), and please specify how you would like the money used if you have a preference. Thank you so much

Position Available

The program is looking for a couple to replace Malcolm and Suemi Allan in Korea as dorm parents and teacher(s). They will be leaving this summer, and ideally at least one member of the replacement couple should go earlier. There is another couple there too, Steve and Jerry Tamayo, but going early would allow an opportunity to learn also from the Allans, who have been there for three years.

The job would include caring for the children as their parents would, taking primary responsibility for spiritual guidance, religious education, and at least one member of the couple should have a college degree and be capable of teaching Math, English literature, and/or Social Studies (we have a curriculum already in place) to seventh and eighth graders.

You must really have a heart for the children, helping to create a nurturing environment, but you also need to have the capability to be responsible for their intellectual growth and life-of-faith education. Please contact Tom or Carolyn Burkholder, 151 South St., Peekskill, NY 10566, for more information and for a staff application

Stephen Wright and his wife were dorm parents and teachers at Sonhwa School in Korea for three years. He is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education and Human Development at the University of Maryland.


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