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BKW teacher attends conference on Korean culture

During this past summer vacation, BKW English teacher Audra Rys ventured to Los Angeles, California, to learn about Korean culture. As an educator that has given seminars on East Asian Studies and integrated lessons on the art of Sijo Poetry into her classroom, Rys applied for a scholarship to attend the Korea Academy for Educators (KAFE) conference in order to enhance her lessons. She was one of only 35 educators in the United States to receive full funding for her trip through KAFE's fellowship program and only one of two teachers from New York State (the other was from Rochester) to attend.

The KAFE conference, held from July 29 to August 2, explored the history, cuisine, music, religion as well as the language and literature of Korea -- fully immersing teachers from all over the United States in the culture of a different country, one that many of them teach about in their classrooms.

"BKW students know about the Korean war from their history lessons, but there is so much culture to learn and experience," said Rys. "My students would identify with Korean culture in that they take pride in where they come from."

Some of the activities that teachers participated in were drumming lessons, they made Korean paintings, learned paper folding techniques, learned about Sijo poetry and Korean literature and screened documentaries and feature films. They even got to dress up in traditional Korean garb.

The attendees of the conference heard lectures from many speakers, including college professors and the best selling author Heile Lee ("In the Absence of Sun" and "Still Like Rice.")

"The members of the Korean Foundation were so welcoming," said Rys. "They were so valuable to us in engaging in the experience but also in how to take what we were experiencing and bring it back to our classrooms. I'll never forget this conference!"

The event was co-sponsored by the Korea Foundation, Korean Cultural Center, and the USC Korean Studies Institute. More information is available at the KAFE website www.koreaacademy.org.