A group of students and instructors from Shoreline Community College is headed for Korea in the second phase of a unique exchange program with Ajou Motor College.
“We’re very excited for this opportunity,” said Pete Calkins, director of the SCC automotive program. “This will broaden their view of the auto industry, which is really a global industry.”
The 15 students and two faculty members will visit the school in Boryeong, just a few miles from the west coast of South Korea. Ajou is a two year college with individual curriculum emphasis on automotive repair, design and manufacturing. The school also offers a focus on motor sports and even has its own test track.
Ajou has received several awards of excellence from the Korean Ministry of Education. Along with the agreement with SCC, Ajou has exchange programs with automotive technical schools in Japan, Australia, and China, and they are currently working with Shoreline Community College.
SCC’s automotive program has received a number of awards itself and is seen as one of the best in the U.S., Calkins said. SCC offers a general automotive technician certificate in cooperation with local dealerships as well as a number of technician programs with direct support form specific manfacturers, including Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota and Honda. This past year, SCC’s Toyota training program was honored as tops in the country. SCC also hosts the Puget Sound Automobile Dealers Association (PSADA) as part of the automotive program.
The trip is funded from donations by PSADA, the SCC Foundation, individual donors and even car wash staffed by the students. In June, the SCC Foundation and Shoreline Mayor Cindy Ryu hosted an event for potential donors that included a visit by Korean Consul General Haryong Lee.
Despite the comprehensive approach at SCC, Calkins said the exchange will offer students a valuable perspective.
“In the U.S., we look at the automobile in terms of distinct systems and teaching is geared toward how to repair those systems,” said Calkins, who visited Ajou in 2007. “In Korea, they take a different approach. They’re reaching the same ends, but getting there in a different way.”
In 2007, SCC President Lee Lambert, state Sen. Paull Shin, D-Mukilteo, and others visited Ajou to formalize the exchange program. Later that year, the first group of Ajou students visited SCC for two weeks of exposure to the campus, training facility and Puget Sound region.
Before leaving, Shin took time to meet with the SCC students and talk about the importance of the trip and provide some insight into what they may encounter in his home country.
“Let offer three thoughts,” Shin, a former SCC faculty member, told the students. “First, expect people to be hospitable. They will like you so don’t be defensive. Second, enjoy (the trip), have a ball. Ajou has some very high-tech stuff.
“And last, don’t be afraid to get to know them. Most people will be willing to speak English, since it is required starting in grade school. If you try a little Korean, it will help.”
Shin also urged the students to try the food.
“If you like spicy food, you will like Korean food,” Shin said, pointing out Health magazine has ranked kimchi, the spicy fermented vegetable dish, as one of the top five foods in the world.
SCC students and faculty are scheduled to leave July 5 and return July 18. A second group of Ajou students will be right on their heels, with plans to arrive here in late July.