Students from South Korea, southern Illinois pair up during visit

High school students from schools a half a world apart are getting a glimpse in to each other’s lives.

Twenty-five students visiting from South Korea will spend the next week paired with students and host families in Vienna, Illinois.

There were a few new faces at Vienna High School on Thursday. Senior Journey Womack said she was thrilled when she heard they’d be visiting Vienna, but she was nervously excited to see the students when they first arrived.

“It was kind of nerve wracking, because I want to make the best first impression that I can,” Womack said.

Before students could get to the classrooms in Vienna, they had to fly all the way from Seoul, South Korea. The students said it was a good 14-hour flight just to get to New York. They spent a few days there, seeing landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, before flying to Chicago. There, they boarded a bus that took them to Vienna, where they’ll spend the next week.

Lim Schun said he and his classmates are eager to see how American schools are different from schools in South Korea.

“Yeah, I really want to see, because our school ends really late, but this one ends really early,” Schun said. He said back home, classes end around 4 p.m., but then they have sports and activities before open studying time. All in all, they’re not usually done until 10 p.m.

“And they’ve been really, really wondering about students, their age —about what 16, 17-year-olds (are) doing here, what’s different,” said Michael Moon, who’s helping coordinate the trip with students during their visit to the U.S.

Moon said the kids are hoping to learn and experience as much as they can with students in Vienna.

“I guess we are here until next Thursday or Friday. So, I want to have some memories with them,” Schun said.

“I think the whole student body is really excited for them to come over here and spend some time with us at our school,” Womack said.  While it’s just a quick visit and short glimpse in each other’s lives and culture, she said she’s hoping this trip is something they’ll all remember.

During their stay, students from South Korea will get to experience parts of southern Illinois’ culture, including camping at Touch of Nature and visiting Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.  Students will leave on Friday next week for Chicago, visiting the city for a few days before flying home.

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