Bethany Mazurek is an alumna of the 2018 CLS Korean program in Busan, South Korea. She is currently studying at Grand Valley State University, majoring in Anthropology and Chinese Studies. Bethany is a recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award to teach English in Korea starting fall 2019. Following this, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in Anthropology with a focus on East Asia and to do ethnographic research focusing on Korea-China relations.
Inspired by Family
Growing up with a Filipino grandmother and a Korean aunt, these cultures influenced my childhood, although I didn’t properly appreciate it at the time. It wasn’t until I interviewed my aunt about growing up in Busan, South Korea that I really began diving in and learning about the country’s complex history and culture, especially the rapid change and growth in the years following the Korean War.
I joined my university’s K-pop dance club and became Vice President and choreographer, further developing both my leadership skills and my interest in Korea and its culture. My major in Chinese studies only further developed my interest in East Asia as a whole (as my university doesn’t offer Korean language classes). The CLS Program was a dream come true, especially once I found out that, by some incredible coincidence, I would be studying in my aunt’s hometown of Busan.
CLS introduced me to a global community in a way that no other program has, not only through the connections I’ve made while in Korea, but also within my cohort and the alumni I got to know along the way.
A Memorable Drive
One experience I treasure from my time on the CLS Program is the night my language partner’s mom drove us throughout the city to lesser-known parts on a winding path leading up the mountain to a fantastic view through old neighborhoods. During the drive, we discussed a wide range of topics, including the history of the neighborhoods and our lives. We saw neighborhoods where the Japanese lived during their occupation of Korea and areas that refugees crowded into during the Korean War—sights that brought to life much of the history that I’ve only read about. It was a rewarding feeling that I was able to communicate using Korean to have a real conversation.
Joining a Global Community
It’s incredible to see where all of the people in CLS go with life and the way that it forges connections all over the world. I’ve gotten to bring some of that home with me, whether it be teaching my family and friends little bits of Korean, building deeper bonds with Korean friends at home, or talking about my experience at an event on campus. I find that one of the most enjoyable things (besides the program itself) is just helping other people better understand Korea and the Korean language.
CLS Alumni Ambassadors are recent CLS participants who take leadership roles as active and positive representatives of the CLS Program by engaging with CLS alumni and representing the program to various audiences. If you would like to get in touch with a CLS Alumni Ambassador, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
April 30, 2019