Though everything from my summer in Seoul, South Korea with NSLI-Y was amazing, the friendships I fostered within my supporter group and the memories we made with each other were nothing short of being on the top of the list of my favorite things from the program.
The name “supporter” is pretty unique to the NSLI-Y Korea program. From the conversations I have had with other alumni, most programs have peers that help the students with their language learning by tutoring; however, supporters and supporter groups are really only found on the Korea program.
A supporter is a Korean college age student that acts as a tutor, a tour guide, and if you can successfully build a relationship — a lifelong friend. Supporter groups are made up of your Korean supporter and usually one or two other students. (Usually, these students are from your own Korean class since you will have a similar language level to them.) We found out our supporter groups when we received a text from our supporter on our program phone. I found out the other members of my group by comparing texts with my classmates on the following day during Korean class. On the Korean summer program, we had supporter meetings twice a week: Tuesday and Thursday. The meeting was about two hours long and there were two types of meetings.
The Academic Supporter Meeting
During the average supporter meetings (which I will call an “academic supporter meeting”), our supporters acted like our Korean language tutors. Supporters usually meet at cafes and sometimes restaurants if they have planned to have lunch with their “students” before the actual studying part of the meeting. They are given stipends to use to buy any food, snacks, or drinks from the cafe; therefore, this is a great way to try out many Korean treats and cafes as a matter of fact. My supporter meeting was at the same cafe every time (with one or two exceptions when we, instead, went to 설빙 and Blind Alley) but many supporter groups changed up their meeting locations every meeting. They would have their supporter text them the location/map before every meeting. During this kind of supporter meeting, we would study Korean using this little booklet that went along with what we covered in class. (And a little more vocabulary words for good measure.)
We would go over vocab words as well as grammar points. Our supporter would make sure that we knew how to utilize the new knowledge effectively before asking us questions in which we could practice using them. After everyone had studied the vocab and grammar points, we would record our answers to more questions that our supporter asked us. (This sometimes took awhile due to many BAD mess ups as well as too much laughing in the background of the recordings.)
Cultural Excursion Supporter Meeting
The second type of supporter meetings were cultural excursions. Our supporters acted as tour guides by taking us around Seoul to famous historical sites. My supporter group had two cultural excursions throughout the duration of the program. We had one at Gyeongbokgung (경복궁) and at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (동대문디자인플라자).
The cultural excursions were a great way to learn more about Korean history (and more modern aspects of the culture) which we did not get much of during class. They were also great for bonding. Through these excursions, I was able to get close with more of my classmates as well as make some Korean friends. We also got to try a lot of delicious Korean desserts during our cultural excursions and actually… they were all bingsu desserts haha
And that is everything I have to say about supporter groups! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and hopefully it is informative to all the future NSLI-Y scholars. Supporter groups can truly make the program that much better! The next informational post I will be writing will be about culture clubs for the Korea summer program in Seoul. Look out for that!~
안녕 친구들~ ❤
- Emma (엠마)