Holding Out Helping Hands
When Soonhae Hong and Misoon Won, professors at Seoul Women’s University, participated in the 2012 Asian University Leaders Program, they were able to “feel the fellowship” that came from discussing shared responsibilities and educational philosophies with other Asian faculty and administrators. That sense of community is something that Seoul Women’s University’s is trying to instill in its students, as a way to help these young women develop values and to alleviate problems of alienation on campus.
The 2012 AULP focused on “Counseling Issues and Concerns in Higher Education,” so Dr. Hong and Dr. Won described how Seoul Women’s University weaves character and community-based education into the university curriculum through its Bahrom Character Education (BCE) program. This program was initiated by the university’s first president, Dr. Hwang-Gyung Go, whose pen name, “Bahrom,” means “upright.” Through classroom learning, discussions and small group activities, students begin to strengthen community bonds, practice empathetic communication and problem solving, and develop a sense of social responsibility. “In other words,” Dr. Hong explains, “utilizing intelligence, Christian ethics and knowledge is more important than merely learning them.”
Seoul Women’s University also challenges students to look beyond the campus and cultivate global citizenship. That becomes especially important as Korea’s role in global society expands. As Dr. Hong describes it, “the story of people living in another country is a story of our close neighborhood, and not a story which has nothing to do with us.” Introducing new insights and skills through BCE, it is hoped, will “produce many mature global citizens who are willing to hold out helping hands to everybody in the world to help them live decent and happy lives.”