Critical Language Scholarship Program | Bethany Mazurek
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Bethany Mazurek

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 clsalumni@​americancouncils.​org


Alumni Profiles

Bethany Mazurek
Bethany Mazurek
Korean 2018
Busan, South Korea

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Posted Date

April 30, 2019