Category Archives: International Interns

International Intern – Gloria Kang

Gloria Kang – USA

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Gloria Kang and I am currently a Masters student at the Korean Language Flagship Program. Last year, I completed the abroad portion of my program at Korea University.  While I was in Korea for the year, I also worked as an intern for VANK.

2. How did you start interning at VANK?

My program consists of one year in Korea at Korea University and an internship at an organization that in the field of my interest. I’d always been interested in cultural exchange so before I got to Korea, my Korean language exchange partner recommended VANK to me. He said he didn’t really know much about the organization but he thought it’d be a good match for me. When I got to Korea, I heard that another student had also interned at VANK before me. She had had a great experience and I was interested in how they “shared Korea with the world.” I felt that VANK would be a great way to really get an understanding of Korea and Korean culture. I went in for an interview and my internship started the following week.

3. What were your duties as an intern?

My main project was the VANK story website. I went through all of VANK’s PR materials, websites, book, published works, etc. and in order to provide detailed English descriptions of the various items. I also interview VANK staff, past interns, students, and collaborative organizations in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the various people in VANK, what they do, and the motivations that drive them. Lastly, I covered some of the events both hosted by VANK and co-hosted with other groups.

My second project was managing the Snapshot Korea contest, an online photo contest co-hosted with the Korea Tourism Organization. Anyone from all over the world could submit pictures that reminded them of Korea or Korean culture. It was fascinating to see all the creative entries and the various places they were being submitted from. I was also a team leader for a group of students during the visit to Dokdo and performed as a member of the fan dance team on the school tours trip to Mongolia.

Other minor duties consisted of translating, helping out during events, speaking at off-line events, and offering a foreigner perspective on various projects.

4. Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

To be completely honest, I had some initial apprehension about VANK because of what I read about VANK on their Wikipedia page. VANK had often been accused of nationalism so I was nervous about not being able to agree with or adjust to the organization’s culture. I’m also quite expressive with my opinions so I was wary that this would be a place where I wouldn’t be able to voice my perspectives as a foreigner in Korea. However, I quickly learned that my worries were unfounded. The staff immediately welcomed me like family and was very interested to hear about my opinions. They were kind, funny, and loving. Additionally, the information I had been concerned about from the Wikipedia page was extremely outdated and VANK had grown and developed as an organization. What really changed my mind however, were the actual VANK members. Anyone with a general understanding of the life of a typical Korean student knows how much they bogged are down with pressure for academic success. They participate in little to no extracurriculars and often feel lost about their future. VANK students were starkly different. VANK had taught all of them to aspire for goals and dreams that would positively impact their communities, nation, and the global world. They were instilled with the belief that having a dream was not the same as simply obtaining a career and to have pride in who they were as individuals. As they exchanged culture with fellow students around the world and they gained interest in global issues such as poverty and human rights. Most noticeably, during an exercise during the Dokdo trip where students given a task to think of ways to achieve greater peace in Asia, I was surprised to hear the open-minded, innovative, forward-thinking ideas of young students.

5. What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

The greatest things I’ve gained are my relationships with the people I met. Nearly every single person I met was welcoming, warm, and always incredibly kind to me. They were also so passionate about their desire to make their most of their life and make a difference in the world. I was inspired by the drive I saw in students that were much younger than me and in turn, I was able to reflect on my own personal goals.

I was also able to gain a deeper understanding of Korean culture and history. VANK gave me the opportunity to experience Dokdo, Mongolia, and even Gyeongju, the center of Korean history. Dokdo showed me the significance of the island and why Koreans so valued Dokdo as a symbol of the Korean identity. Mongolia gave me the chance to experience another beautiful culture and create honest relationships despite any language or cultural barriers. Finally, Gyeongju’s rich historical culture took me thousands of years into the past with sights and scenes that I will never be able to forget.

These were only a few of the memorable moments at VANK and I believe I was truly lucky for my experience there. I loved going to work every morning and always remember each day as being full of smiles and laughter.

6. Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short-term goal is to graduate hahaha. Since this might be the end of my academic career, I want to feel that I’ve done my best so I can finish without any regrets. My long-term goal is similar in that I just want to continue to give my all in the opportunities that come my way and just be someone who makes positive contributions to my communities.

International Intern – Jiao (Sarah) Sun

Jiao (Sarah) Sun – China

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.
I’m a college senior from Nanjing University in China. I am majoring in finance and will be going to graduate school for finance next semester.

How did you start interning at VANK?
I always wanted to intern or travel abroad but I never had the time or opportunity until now. I was genuinely interested in Korean culture so I looked through the internships in Korea that were available through AIESEC. (AIESEC is an international non-profit organization that provides student with leadership training and internship opportunities at for-profit and non-profit organizations).  I was particularly interested in Korea’s relationship with other countries so I was attracted to VANK’s work with international relations. I was also interested in gaining experience at an NGO. I applied to VANK through AIESEC and was selected for the six-week intern program.

What were your duties as an intern?
I’m researched the Nanjing massacre and helped VANK researchers access resources that are only available in Chinese. I’m also worked on promoting VANK to middle and high schools students in China so that they may have opportunities to participate if they are interested. VANK gave me the freedom to research international issues that interest me such as women’s rights.

Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?
Everyone was very kind. I also thought I would be the only intern but I was so happy to meet the other interns! I enjoyed the freedom of researching topics according to my interest.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?
My colleagues taught me a lot about the topics of my interest. I was able to see all of their hard work, their passion, and the resulting efforts. Specifically, I had the opportunity to meet a comfort woman. We also have comfort women in China and the related issue of historical distortion in textbooks. I truly understood how comfort women should receive their just apologies and deserve to have their stories told as soon as possible.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.
I want to do a great job as an intern while experiencing as much Korean culture as possible. In the long run, I would like to continue to do work that promotes Korean culture to China and promotes Chinese culture to Korea.

International Intern – Kyndra Love

Kyndra Love – USA

Please give a brief introduction of yourself. 

Originally from Oregon, I was first introduced to Korea in high school. I had the opportunity to travel to Korea with my music department and immediately fell in love. During my senior year, I studied Samulnori at Chungnam Arts High School in Cheonan. After returning home to the US, I wanted to continue studying Korean. So, I decided to move to Hawaii! Not only is there a large population of Koreans, the Korean program at University of Hawaii is well-known.

After completing an undergraduate program in Second Language Studies (and a year of language study at Yonsei University), I was accepted into the Korean Language Flagship program. The 2 year program was split into two parts, one year spent in Hawaii and the other at Korea University. While attending classes in Korea, we were encouraged to find internships similar to our thesis topic. My interest was based in Korean food culture and history, but it was very difficult to find an internship related specifically to my topic. So I started to do some research on possible internships and was able to find VANK.

When and how did you find out about VANK? How did you start interning at VANK? What kind of work did you do during your time there? Any problems or difficult aspects?

I actually found out about VANK through a fellow graduate of Flagship. He thought that VANK would be a perfect match for my interests; and as it turned out, it was! For about a year, I had the opportunity to be part of this organization and during that time I was involved in various activities. As a native English speaker, my main task was to assist in the translating and editing of articles, videos, and presentations. I also participated in lectures, and attended meetings and conferences between VANK and other government organizations.

The best part of my job was being around colleagues who were enthusiastic about their work; and it was a relief to intern in such a positive environment. I had previously been warned about companies where employees were treated badly or overworked. Fortunately, my experience at VANK was the complete opposite. I enjoyed coming to the office and participating in events and activities. The only difficulty I had was my intent to speak Korean at all times. As a learner, it is easy for me to become nervous when speaking, especially in front of crowds. However, using Korean at work allowed me to advance my Korean ability in many ways. It was only because of the acceptance and support of my colleagues that I was able to become more comfortable speaking in a work environment, which I am extremely thankful for.

What have you gained from your internship? What were the most rewarding moments?

There are few moments in life when you have the ability to experience something incredible. For me, VANK provided me with not one, but two of these opportunities. The first was visiting Dokdo. The tension between Korea and Japan over the two islands is well known and having the opportunity to step foot on the islands was surreal. Although it sat in the middle of the ocean, the clear blue water and birds perched on the rocks were a beautiful sight. After that experience, with all of its charm and beauty, I began to truly understand the importance of the islands to Koreans.

The second was traveling to Uzbekistan. Never in my life did I think I would be traveling to central Asia. I was impressed and surprised by the deep connection between the Uzbek and Korean people. For a number of centuries Koreans served as an integral part of Uzbek culture in regards to trade and eventually farming. I was able to learn so much about these two cultures and gained a deep respect for the warmth and kindness of both native Uzbek people and the Korean-Uzbek nationals as well.

Through traveling with VANK and attending day to day workshops, I constantly was reminded that every person has the ability to affect change; myself included. I enjoyed the challenge of pushing myself to not only be better at my studies, but be a better person as well. And for that, I am truly grateful for my experience at VANK.

International Intern – Bonny Li

Bonny Li – Taiwan

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Jia-Qin Li(李佳親), from Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. I’m a sophomore in National Cheng-Chi University and my major is Japanese Literature. My hobbies are reading and writing. I regularly go to the library and bookstore in search of elements for my novels. I’m also interested in photographing the inconspicuous but lovely plants and insects that come into my life. One of my daily routines is logging all my experiences–happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, etc.- in a diary so that I can give my future self a nice big present.

How did you start interning at VANK?

I got the chance to intern at VANK through AIESEC, the largest international student internship NGO. I sent my applications to many countries and only received one reply from South Korea so I went to South Korea for my internship at VANK. It lasted around eight weeks, from 07/16/12-09/07/12. I spent most of my summer vacation in Korea. It was really amazing for me.

What were your duties as an intern?

Interacting with VANK members –most of them are high school students- to introduce where I’m from and who I am; writing reports about the international relationship between Taiwan, China and South Korea and what I did every week; being as a helper in events VANK held; going to many places like museums to learn more about Korean history and cultures.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I gained the ability to research more and more information, to practice writing and speaking foreign languages every day, to experience true Korean cultures, and to interact with people from other countries. Since I’m not an extroverted person, I think that there may have been some misunderstandings that happened during my internship with other interns. After coming back to Taiwan, I pushed myself to speak my true thoughts. This is the greatest thing I gained from this internship.

In the VANK office, there were less problems. But outside of VANK, there were more problems especially when talking with clerks. Most of them don’t speak English so I couldn’t understand what they meant or anything else. It was useless to make gestures so I gave up communicating with them. Besides, the price in Korea is more expensive than in Taiwan so I seldom ate out and rather cooked in the dorm. Maybe this is another ability I gained during the internship.

Another experience was going to Dokdo. It is said that even if you are Korean, it’s difficult to set foot on Dokdo because of the territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan that has last for a long time and both countries are still fighting for this island. During the time in Dokdo, I joined the group composed of other VANK members who welcome me very much and I made a lot of friends during the trip. On the last day, my group was rewarded with an amazing and surprising cultural performance. This was the most rewarding moment.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

The short-term goals are to publish my own books about comics and anime and to catch up with academics because I’ll transfer my major next semester. The long-term goals are to become a translator and interpreter because I’ve learned many languages and I want to improve these two abilities. I also want to save money to travel to Europe, Australia, etc. in the future.

International Intern – Binh Nguyen

Binh Nguyen – Vietnam

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

Hi! My name is Binh and it means “peaceful” in Vietnamese. I am 23 years old and from Hanoi, Vietnam. I majored in Commerce and am now working in the Financial Services industry. I am personally interested in K-pop and this interest sparked a curiosity about Korea.

How did you start interning at VANK?

I worked at VANK for 8 weeks as full-time summer intern in 2011. I came to know about VANK and its wonderful internship opportunity through the job database maintained by AIESEC, an international student organization that promotes internships in various countries. As a fan of K-pop, I had always been interested in visiting and exploring Korea so I was thrilled at the chance to intern at a friendly Korean NGO that shares stories about Korean culture, history, and heritage with the world.

What were your duties as an intern?

I worked mainly as a reporter and translator. I wrote feedback with an external person’s perspective on VANK’s documentaries, stories, and other materials on Korean topics. Much of my work had to do with contributing to and managing the Friendly Korea Community and World Changer website. Additionally, I wrote several reports on assigned subjects such as “The Influence of Hallyu” and “My Dokdo Camp Experience.” I also worked on translating VANK’s English materials into Vietnamese. During my internship, VANK organized a lot of conferences for young Korean students so I had many chances to participate in and learn about organizing these events.

Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

The internship significantly exceeded my expectations! I came to Seoul anticipating 2 months of serious white-collar work in the office but instead I ended up joining a family.

The VANK office members were like family members to me; the atmosphere was completely welcoming. There was no strict observance of an office hierarchy and all staff had friendly relationships with one another. Gitae would kindly offer to make me coffee sometimes after our lunch together. My research supervisor, Hyunsook would propose research topics that she and other VANK staff members knew I would love to write about (Hallyu!). And Wonjung would often take pictures of me and the other staff. The internship was such a memorable time and I love every second of it.

I could not speak or understand Korean so living in Seoul and working in an office surround by entirely Korean people was definitely difficult, as expected.

But the thing is, I was really lucky because I received tremendous help from everyone in the office. They taught me basic Korean greetings and sayings and helped me whenever I had any questions about life in Seoul. Everyone in the office helped ease my transition to Seoul and made everyday life happier. Sunhee would often walk to the train station with me on our way home after work. Saebom would take me around the city on our search for Korean bubble teak. Saebom, Hyunsook, and Jungae all invited me to visit their homes. When I wanted to try new food and visit a new area, Bokyung took me to the Ewha Women’s University. There are so many countless things I was helped with and I am still feel so very grateful.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I met many Koreans who helped me widen my knowledge about the traditions, culture, food, and history of the beautiful country Korea and the exciting city Seoul. I also learned about the various issues and conflicts as well as dreams and hopes of the people in Korea. Simultaneously, I developed my ability to work with foreigners in an entirely unfamiliar and foreign environment. I also learned to spend time with and understand Korean and foreign friends of all different ages and backgrounds. It was truly an eye-opening experience because I got to learn a lot both from the nature of my work and from the relationship I shared with the friends I made in Korea.

The highlight of my internship was participating in the Dokdo leadership camp. Not only did I learn a lot of about the Dokdo conflict, I was also able to interact with many young Korean students and understand their dreams and wishes for a brighter and more peaceful future. I witness the successful efforts of VANK in organizing such a wonderful platform for the Korean youth (who came from all over the country) to come together in order to discuss their goals and plans for the future, share their love for their country, and build strong relationships with one another. It feels surreal to relive this wonderful adventure of August 2011.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My personal short-term goal in the next few years to meet up again with as many of my Korean friends as possible either by re-visiting Korea (which I did in 2012 and hope to do again!) or by welcoming them in my home city of Hanoi, Vietnam. Or perhaps we will meet in another country, who knows where life may take us.

My long-term goal is to always cherish and maintain life-long friendships with the friends I was blessed to have made in Korea, for such relationships mean a lot to me in my life.

International Intern – Younes El Gasmi

Younes El Gasmi – Morocco

Please give me a brief self-introduction of yourself.
My name is Younes EL GASMI and I am 26 years old. I am from Casablanca, Morocco. I have a Bachelors degree in Management and Accounting and now I am doing my Masters in International Finance.

How did you start interning at VANK?                                                                                              I found about VANK through an organization called AIESEC, an international student intern organization.  I started the internship in February of 2011 and the duration was two months.

What were your duties as an intern?
I translated VANK materials (websites and books) into French and Arabic and also gave short speeches about my experience to middle and high school students during VANK events.

Was the internship just as you expected? Why or why not?
No, the internship was not like I expected ….it was more than expected because I felt comfortable working with the whole team. They welcomed me a lot and I am very thankful to them for this. Also, I was very lucky for the opportunity to participate in many events organized by VANK.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?
I have gained meaningful friendships, insight about true Korean mindsets, culture, and history, and meetings with lot of future Korean leaders. Really, it was the best way to discover the real Korea. The most rewarding moments were visiting Dokdo and attending the Kim Jang Hoon concert, but also I will never forget the moments when my friends opened up their hearts and homes to me.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.
My short term goal is graduating with excellence, and my long term goal is to become the president of the World Bank.

International Intern – Rafael Bonaparte

Rafael Bonaparte – Germany

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Rafael. I am 26 years old and from Germany. I just finished by Bachelor’s degree in business and economics and recently started my Master’s degree.

How did you start interning at VANK? What were your duties as an intern?

I was an intern from August to October 2010. Frankly, I cannot remember the reasons for my decision anymore since it was three years ago. I think one of the main reasons was that no one else i knew was planning to go there…

My duties were to foster a social network to connect Korean students with other students around the world, participate in the Dokdo Island Festival, and present an overview of my experiences at VANK to the festival attendees. Additionally, I started to translate the website of VANK to proper German as the actual translation at the time was incorrect.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I gained a lot of different experience during this internship. Korean culture was completely new to me and by the end I hope I understood the meaning of most things and culture.

My only difficulties were the lack of cheese (hahah).

The most rewarding moment was when I was given the opportunity to speak in front of approximately 800 people about my experiences with VANK. Also, the trip to the border to North Korea was fascinating.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short term goal is it to change my university from Gießen, a small city in Germany, to London, UK. My long term goals are to find a decent job somewhere in the UK, Germany, the Middle East, or Asia. My career goals lie in the financial sector, probably a mixture of financial knowledge and IT.

International Intern – Polly Chan

Polly Chan – Hong Kong

Please give a brief introduction of yourself. How did you start interning at VANK?

My name is Polly from Hong Kong and I am currently working as a personal assistant in a business consulting firm. I worked at VANK as a summer intern in 2010 through the AIESEC exchange program. I decided to participate in AIESEC because It’s amazing and eye-opening! I love learning about new cultures and making new friends. I chose VANK because I wanted to know more about Korean traditional culture and the intern job description sounded perfect for me.

What were your duties as an intern?

During my internship, I participated in writing a column about Korean traditional food, translated the English VANK website and one of their publication to Chinese, and most importantly, I was a part of the leadership camp to Dokdo island!

Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

The internship was just fascinating and eye- opening. It deepened my understanding of Korean traditional culture and history and I got the chance to visit Dokdo island, a place that not even average Koreans can visit. I enjoyed the job a lot because I was able to help promote the amazing Korean traditional culture to the younger generation in Seoul. The hardest part of my internship was language. If I had had a better knowledge of the Korean language, I surely could have done more, helped more, and made a better impact on VANK. That’s why I decided to study the Korean language when I back to Hong Kong.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I truly treasure all the people I met in Korea and every moment I experienced. It was just unforgettable and life- changing.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

I hope in the future, there will be chance for me to work with VANK again! It was such a meaningful NGO. I will continue to promote Korean culture to my friends in Hong Kong and definitely will keep in touch with all my lovely friends in Korea. Long term, I would like to balance my career and personal life while making significant steps in my career.