Critical Language Scholarship Program | Ethan Jewell
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This photo was taken in front of Gwanghwamun Palace during my time as an intern for the US Embassy in Seoul

Ethan Jewell

Ethan Jew­ell, an alum­nus of the 2018 CLS Kore­an pro­gram in Gwangju, South Korea is a cur­rent stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin, where he is study­ing Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty with a focus on East Asia. Ethan is spend­ing his spring 2019 semes­ter attend­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Chi­nese Lan­guage Pro­gram in Tai­wan. In the future, Ethan plans to obtain a grad­u­ate degree in Secu­ri­ty Stud­ies or Pub­lic Pol­i­cy and pur­sue a career in the For­eign Ser­vice using his CLS language.

A Self-Starter

I start­ed study­ing Kore­an as a hob­by in 2016 when I stum­bled onto a web­site (how​tostudyko​re​an​.com) that intro­duced the lan­guage from the roots and built up to more advanced mate­r­i­al. I found the gram­mat­i­cal struc­ture and unique alpha­bet of Kore­an fas­ci­nat­ing. I stud­ied Kore­an in my spare time for about eight months before land­ing an intern­ship with the State Depart­ment in Korea. 

Hangul is the only true fea­t­ur­al alpha­bet, which means that the con­so­nants were actu­al­ly designed to mim­ic the shape of the speaker’s mouth dur­ing pronunciation. 

A Mem­o­rable Musi­cal Night

One night, a lan­guage part­ner invit­ed me and oth­er CLS par­tic­i­pants to a prac­tice ses­sion for his band. It was a tra­di­tion­al music group that per­formed pan­sori (판소리). They gave us a per­son­al­ized live per­for­mance in their stu­dio where they per­formed both mod­ern and tra­di­tion­al tunes. After­ward, they gave each of us an instru­ment and taught us a sim­ple song. Although our cohort was not full of tal­ent­ed musi­cians, we had a great time and enjoyed some of the most gen­uine expres­sions of Kore­an culture.

Shar­ing Culture

I often shared ele­ments of Amer­i­can life with my host fam­i­ly over din­ner, includ­ing every­thing from table man­ners to Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. We also dis­cussed ele­ments of Amer­i­can fam­i­ly life, such as par­ents’ expec­ta­tions of their chil­dren and vice ver­sa. At home, I have been able to share my CLS expe­ri­ence more explicitly. 

A Lin­guis­tics Perspective

I would rec­om­mend study­ing Kore­an to any­one inter­est­ed in lin­guis­tics. Kore­an is an agglu­ti­na­tive lan­guage, which means that ideas are cre­at­ed by adding suf­fix­es to root words. For exam­ple, 해” and 하시겠습니까” both mean to do” some­thing, but the for­mer is an infor­mal com­mand and the lat­ter is a ques­tion in the future tense with a high degree of respect. The Kore­an alpha­bet is anoth­er inter­est­ing part of the lan­guage. Before Hangul was invent­ed by King Sejong, Kore­an elites used Chi­nese char­ac­ters to write in either Clas­si­cal Chi­nese or a vari­ety of sys­tems that uti­lized Chi­nese Char­ac­ters to cre­ate Kore­an words.

Fun Facts about Ethan

I grew up in Arling­ton, Texas, a less­er-known sub­urb south­west of Dal­las. One of the most inter­est­ing things about Arling­ton is that it is home to some of the most suc­cess­ful body­builders in the world. Fit­ness became an inte­gral part of my life dur­ing high school, and if I drove down the street I could train along­side some of the best in the world such as Ron­nie Cole­man, Branch War­ren, Jon­nie Jack­son and many oth­ers. My father also instilled in me a love for hik­ing and camping. 


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

Ethan Jewell
Ethan Jewell
Korean 2018
Gwangju, South Korea

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Posted Date

May 06, 2019