The Words of the Koch Family

GOP -- The Institute of Korean Study for Foreign Students

Interview of Dale Garratt and Gertrud Koch
Spring 1990

With True Parents, from left to right: Mrs. Won Bok Choi, Masaichi Hori, Masayoshi Kaiikuri, Masanari Inoue, Motoko Yokoi, Nichiko Yokoi, Masataka Ishii, Hirao Matsuyama, Mr. Jae Deok Joo, and Dr. Bo Hi Pak

Dale Garratt is the coordinator of school affairs for all Western blessed children and Gertrud Koch coordinates all dormitory affairs and serves as the European representative. The Institute for Foreign Students was founded on February 15, 1988, by our True Parents, and is directed by Mrs. Won Pok Choi, with Mr. Jae Deok Joo as the director of education. It is located at the Little Angels' School in Korea.

Mrs. Gertrud Koch:

Question: What are your responsibilities at the School for Foreign Students and what would be valuable for parents to understand in order to prepare their children to study here?

I came to Korea in 1986 to bring my daughter here, when my son was already attending the Little Angels School. The Asian Games were in progress and True Father was here at that time. When I went to Hannamdong to meet with True Father, he asked me to stay in Korea. It was so sudden, and I felt unprepared. Now, Goon has already graduated from middle school and is studying in America, and spring is returning to America for high school like Goon.

Students visit the Il-shin marble vase factory

Question: When do international students come and how long do they stay?

Both Japanese and Western students come at the age of 12 or 13, generally following primary school. I think it is the best time for them to be in Korea. They are able to gain a good foundation in the language. Westerners usually continue their studies in America or in Europe after the one year General Orientation Program (GOP), or after middle school.

The Japanese situation is different because their education system generally does not permit them to re-enter Japanese schools after living in another country for such an extended period of time and attending foreign schools. Therefore, a Japanese student will complete both middle and high school in Korea. Because foreigners can only make up one percent of the enrollment in Korean high schools, it is becoming increasingly difficult to place our Japanese blessed children in Sun Hwa High School. This year one student is attending an outside high school.

Also, this is the first year that Japanese students have graduated from high school and are now attending Korean universities, including Seoul National University. Four of them are going to Song Hwa University at Chonan, and three are going to other Korean universities.

The Japanese blessed children have a one year language preparation program before entering middle school. WL stern students attend a one year General Orientation Program (GOP). Those who stay for middle school -- about 50 percent -- study an additional six months to prepare for it.

Children coming to Korea, especially those from the West, need to be well prepared spiritually. They must have a desire to be here, to learn Father's Language, and to inherit many lessons from Korea. The language and all the circumstances of school, teachers, and culture are different. In the classroom students just listen to the teacher -- there is little give and take. Western children are not used to that. Now, Korean teachers of our programs have become used to Western students, so they have more give and take. But this evolution is occurring only in our program. If Western students would enter an outside Korean middle school, it would be completely different.

Japanese and Westerners cannot have a combined beginning program because of their initial language differences. The dormitories are mixed, however. Each year we feel it is becoming easier to make connections between Western and Japanese students.

They lived in different dormitories in the beginning of the program; we united them in the spring of 1986, with Japanese and Western students living together in the same room, having combined parties and allowing relationships to develop naturally.

Question: Who are the Japanese dorm parents?

Mr. Kurashina and his Korean wife are responsible for the Japanese students in one dormitory. There are two additional Japanese sisters, who work daily with the students, giving them guidance in practical and spiritual matters, while Dale and Joy Garratt serve as Western dorm parents. In the other dormitory, Mr. Yuji Hosaka and his Korean wife are responsible for the Japanese students, with the additional help of two Japanese sisters, and Steve and Noriko Wright take care of Western students. Additional students stay in two apartments with Michael and Soon Ja Richardson, an 1800 blessed couple with four of their own children, taking care of one apartment. True Parents last February encouraged us to have our students live with Korean families.

It was three years before I felt comfortable in Korea and could say I truly loved this land. It takes time for the students to adjust as well. When I saw True Father longing to go to his home town, I was wondering "Why?" Then I realized Father has lived there, eaten there, drank the water from that part of Korea. It is the same for me: I live here, eat here, breathe the air and drink the water, so Korea has become a part of me and I have become part of Korea. Through these things we grow spiritually.

On the summer country tour, students pause at one of Korea's most cherished cultural treasures, the Tabo Pagoda

Question: Parents of the blessed children can learn the details of the programs through their national education departments, is that true?

Yes, it is really valuable if the students have started learning Korean long before coming. This is really the main point of preparation. In the morning we have service, then go to school. They can only watch Western TV once a week, but they can watch Korean TV, if they wish. This can be quite shocking for children accustomed to watching TV a lot. In the evening they study and close the day with prayer. Learning to make that personal connection with Heavenly Father is an important part of their lives here. It is like center living and not so easy. They have to learn to discipline themselves and to be together all day.

My son, Goon, who is now in America at school, visited me in Korea over his birthday. He loves Korea twice as much as America because of the atmosphere. I know if Goon had grown up in the West all these years, he wouldn't be the kind of boy he is now. This influence makes a lot of difference in their spiritual growth.

Question: Do the Western students have the option of staying for high school?

Yes, but they have to be really excellent students and strongly motivated. Ichiko Sudo and Naeran Verheyen both attended high school here. However, in order to prepare for American universities, they attended their senior year of high school in America.

Western students with Mrs. Koch and Dale Garratt stand north of the 38th Parallel in the truce village of Panmunjom

Dale Garratt:

Question: You've been here about two years -- could you start by explaining what your responsibilities are?

My wife Joy and I are responsible for taking care of Western blessed children on two levels -- I am the head Western teacher and coordinator of school activities. We teach them Math, English, and Korean culture at school. At home we are responsible for one of the three living situations. The Wrights and the Richardsons each care for another home situation.

The main purpose of the children's coming here is to learn Korean, but we teach them Math and English as well. The Korean culture class involves studying Korean and church customs, traditions and history.

Question: Do you agree with Mrs. Koch that 12 is the best age for the students to come here?

From the view of learning language, it is the final period of their life that they can acquire the native accent. Emotionally, they are going from being a child to being a teenager. It is an important time to strengthen their original mind, deepen their religious and spiritual foundations, and to understand what the Unification Church means to them personally. Being with other blessed children they are not pressured by constant temptations to date and to smoke. So, for most of them, it is a very good time to come.

But I think it is important to understand that each child matures differently. Usually they come here after the sixth grade, but for some it is good to finish the seventh grade before coming, because the jump from primary school to junior high school can be very big. Some children find having homework and more academic and personal independence to be very challenging. The parents must really think about their child's situation in deciding.

As far as deeply understanding Korea, I think it takes more maturity to really grasp that. They are not going to leave knowing everything about Korea in one year. Those who stay throughout middle school absorb a great deal of understanding.

Waterfalls at Mt. Sorak

Question: What are the biggest challenges for the children?

Well, it is hard to learn a language. No matter how interesting you make language study, it takes a lot of hard work. Sometimes it is very dull and repetitious. Also, 12 and 13 is the time when your body is really growing and changing. Here there is not a big emphasis on sports, although they will have physical education three times a week. Most American junior high school students who like sports will be involved in some extracurricular sport activity at school, but in Korea they don't have anything like that, so that can be very challenging.

Because of the intense competition to get into a good college, Korean children decide by the time they are 12 or 13 what they are going to be when they grow up. And if they come from a middle or upper middle class family, they are already receiving tutoring in those fields to prepare for college. Whereas in America many girls take ballet to develop grace and poise, or as a hobby, their counterparts in Korea will be intensely practicing every single day to prepare for their future careers.

There is a different level of intensity. Korean students learn discipline and perseverance as a result of their student years. Some of the students I know study 6 hours a day during their winter vacation, when they are 13 or 14 years old. Teachers expect the children to study. In America, you study during vacation only if you have homework. In Korea, they study all the time.

In Korea, the current belief is that if you don't graduate from college, you won't go anyplace in life -- never have any position, or a good marriage. The strong point of this system is that the children learn a lot of self-discipline in their effort to get into college. On the negative side, less than one in three students who try can ever get into college -- the other two are "failures." My own belief is that the ideal is somewhere between the Korean and Western systems of education.

The Western GOP program is designed to give the children a varied one year orientation to Korea, and then they go back to their country unless they are very good in Korean and feel very motivated to study here. Their parents must also really want for them to stay.

Now, in order to expand the program and enable more children to come, family living situations are being set up for the Western children. Everything is really evolving. This fall, about 35 Western students and 100 Japanese students will be in our program.

We send an information sheet to parents to help them prepare their child en for Korea. Besides studying Korean, it is important to give them experiences away from home. One of the biggest problems for Western children is that they are coming 6,000 miles away to a different culture -- it is so far away. The Japanese are nearer to home, and

though it is a different language and culture, they don't look different externally from other Koreans. Westerners, however, just really stick out. They can never melt into the Korean environment. Wherever they go, people stop and look at them.

But the children love living with other blessed children. They feel they can be their true selves. This is not to say they solve all their human relationship problems, but they feel a sense of safety and belonging. Many of them went to school with no other Unification Church members, so being here is much easier. They don't feel they have to hide their identity and are relieved to be going to school with people who know who they are and know what they believe. It can be a very reassuring experience for them. They feel tremendous gratitude to True Parents for being able to come here, and they feel a tremendous closeness to Father and Mother and the True Children.

Every dorm has a monthly birthday party; from left to right: lnmay Kiely, Kazumi Nakano, and Misook Matsuda

Question: What are future developments for the school and how can we in the West best prepare our children?

A great effort is being made by our Korean brothers and sisters to expand the Korean program, thanks to a grant from True Parents.

Mrs. Choi said there should be Korean schools in the West where our children can learn Korean. Many Korean Christian churches have language schools for their children. In Washington DC, Inku Marshall's Korean language and Wonhwa-do School is a good model. That kind of consistent education is the best preparation for coming to Korea.

Another point that Mrs. Won Pok Choi has emphasized is that parents are responsible for their children, regardless of their situation or mission, and have to take primary responsibility for them.

They can't think sending their children to Korea is going to do the job. Children must have a genuine relationship with their parents in order for them to grow close to God. If parents have consistently taught their children about the Unification faith, this is best. This means sharing one's belief in God, in True Parents, one's love and understanding of the Principle and the Bible. Have we shared about our Blessing with our children? It is good to show church videos to our children during family sharing nights.

Sometimes the parents feel it is the church's responsibility to make a Korean school. And while we would hope that our church would take that responsibility, the church is us, not someone else.

We have children that didn't live near any other blessed children, nor near a church center, and yet have a good Korean foundation and know who they are spiritually. This is because their parents educated them well.

Going on to the middle school and high school in Korea isn't for everyone. Parents should understand the Korean education system is quite rigorous and there is very little Western-style give and take between student and teacher. The things we were raised with, like classroom discussion and essay tests, are basically non-existent in Korea. There is no such thing as writing assignments before the college level. All tests are memorization and multiple choice.

One challenge for Western students is that in Korea relationships between students are very important. Particularly at the high school level but even at the junior high school level, relationships lead to a certain life-long commitment to assist each other. So, the challenging part for a Western child is that his Korean classmates will feel they can't make a lifelong commitment to this person because he is not Korean and will be going back to his own country. Unification Church children would see some kind of lifelong commitment possibility, but very few Unification Church children go to our Little Angels' school.

Being here is challenging for Western students but also for the Japanese students, because of the historical resentment between the Koreans and Japanese. So the children are really courageous. Here they are at 12 and 13 years of age and they actually have a fulltime mission. They can't just go out and play for they have a mission to master the language, master the culture, and be away from their families. They love their parents, and many of them haven't spent much time with their parents because of their parents' missions. So even the student who has the hardest time is really admirable. The children love being here with True Parents and the True Family and they love having Hoon Sook Nim here at the school with the Universal Ballet Company. This year, for the first time, we have children that have gone through the complete cycle of junior high school and high school.

There are several fundamental points that we would like to see parents emphasize more. Some of them sound external, but they are not actually. Many children are used to being entertained by video tapes or TV. But in our dorm we don't ever watch TV. Once a week the children watch an English and a Japanese video. So some of them don't know what to do without a videotape machine when they first come over. Not knowing how to entertain themselves, they are easily bored. Parents need to help their child do creative things, especially reading. If they want their children to go to school a long time in Korea they must read a lot to keep up their native language. One of their reasons for coming here is to eventually go back to their country and teach about Father. If they forget their native language they can't fulfill one of Father's original desires for having them study here. So reading is really important. One beautiful way to spend time with your child is to go to the library with them.

Question: What is acceptance being based on?

There are about 180 Japanese children who were eligible to come this April, and only 20 could come. About 96 were eligible from the West, and only a handful were able to come.

Until two years ago basically everyone could come. But for the last two years the Japanese have tested their children in math, Japanese and Korean; the Western educational departments are beginning to test in English, math and Korean. The children go to so many different kinds of schools with different standards, so you can't simply rely on report cards. Our advice is to also do personal interviews. Maturity is such an important aspect of being able to succeed in their studies here. We have prepared guidelines so that parents can prepare their children in advance, which are available through national education offices.

Student Testimonies of Their Experience in Korea

Students visit Mt. Sorak in the autumn

Several blessed children were asked three questions about their experiences studying in Korea: 1)What was your deepest experience in Korea and what did you learn?; 2)What was the most challenging part about being there?; 3) What advice would you give to blessed children to help prepare them to study in Korea? Here are their responses:

T. Fernsler (age 15)

What I like about studying in Korea is being with international students, especially those from Japan and Europe, and also from America. Everyone is different, but it helped me to open up a lot. In my first year, I could relate well with my dorm parents, but the dorm parents last year pushed me more -- it was difficult but it helped me to grow, too. Also, to have teachers from different countries helped me to learn about uniting with others. I hope I can do better this coming year.

Before living in Korea, I was a little too negative toward my parents, but being there has helped me to open up to them. I like the school in Korea because I can really trust my friends there. In the United States there are many temptations, but in Korea, it is easier to overcome.

Studying the language is difficult and takes a long time, but my Korean has improved a lot. You have to know Korean in order to unite with Korean people, because they are different people. The culture is stricter than in America. Most Korean students are disciplined to study hard. In order for foreigners to do okay, they need to study really hard.

Also, being away from my parents wasn't easy. I had to gain determination to study hard. In the beginning, I didn't study hard, but that changed. Korean middle schools don't give much homework, but the students study very hard anyway -- it seems natural to them.

Even though it is sometimes difficult to be in Korea, I have been able to open up to other students, and found ways to study harder and keep going. I have been happy in Korea, and I plan to stay a lot longer.

Jo Shin Seuk (age 13)

Some of my deepest and most wonderful experiences in Korea came while spending time with my elder and younger brothers and sisters at the dormitory.

One thing that I can use very well from my experience there is much better study habits. In America, I was never really that serious about studying and I think I have improved much since going to Korea.

The most challenging aspect is probably to really focus and set yourself to learn and try your very best to gain as much as possible in Korea, compared to just going there and coming back without gaining as much -- you could have and not even caring.

My advice to other potential candidates is that they should really start preparing by studying so that they can get into the program, because not everyone can. It is an opportunity that you really wouldn't want to miss.

Mr. Jae Deok Joo gives classroom orientation to international students

Y. Kamiyama (age 18)

I learned many things but the greatest thing I learned was the Heart of Heavenly Father and the True Family. I came to realize better the "core" of God's Heart and the "core" in each one of us.

The greatest challenge was overcoming myself. The advice I would give to others is, you must come to understand that your life is not for you.

Your life is for God. You must come to understand what time it is in history.

Everything must be done for a higher purpose.

When studying Korean or doing anything else, remember you are doing it or studying to comfort God's Heart. When it is hard, offer it as a condition: "Maybe if I learn one more vocabulary word or do one more page, I can comfort God's Heart a little bit more." So do your best, because if you don't you will regret it later.

Tips on how to act: Respect your older brothers and sisters and teachers. Don't put your hands in your pockets when someone is talking to you. Don't cross your legs while sitting. When being scolded look directly down -- never in the person's eyes.

M. Hose (age 12)

Ever since I was eight years old I had been hearing many interesting things about Korea. I had been studying Korean ever since kindergarten. My two brothers (who are 18 and 14) went to Korea when it came their chance, so I, naturally, wanted to go. Of course, there were many things I liked about America. But I wanted to see what this place I had heard so much about was really like so when I had the opportunity, I took it. Sometimes I would think to myself, "Oh, what fun it will be!" but then there would be that voice saying, "You're not going to Korea to only have fun, you have to learn about True Father and learn Korean to its fullest." "Easier said than done," I thought. One Korean brother once asked me, "Why do you have to learn Korean?" I couldn't answer clearly. Then he said, "Because the Messiah speaks Korean."

I didn't have any real deep experiences in Korea. The only thing I noticed that was sort of deep to me was the relationship between us blessed children. Many times I think to myself, "What would I be like if I weren't a blessed child?" I think it is very amazing that we GOP Westerners became friends with Japanese blessed children. I think also that I've become a more open person. I had no one but friends to talk to and I learned to talk to them freely (even people I never knew before) about my problems. We became so close that it was amazingly hard to keep something from anyone. I know

I have brought back with me a much greater respect toward elders and the True Family. I think I have also learned to deal with all sorts of people -- I am a little more patient with people and I can eat almost any kind of food, even that I hated before.

One thing I couldn't deal with in Korea, though, was concentration on my homework and studies. I hated being cooped up at my desk! It wasn't that easy to understand why I was there in the beginning. I took advantage of my ability to speak Korean in the beginning, but after a while, I had to shape up -- it wasn't easy anymore. Getting along with some people was yet another challenging experience. I also missed my family and, many times, was broke. But, after that, I think, now I am a more cautious person.

I think that next year's new GOP kids should know one very important thing, which is: Be brave, you can't hide! -- Because many times you'll be asked to do things that seem quite humiliating! 

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