Critical Language Scholarship Program | Marcus Dunn
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Marcus Dunn

Mar­cus Dunn is an alum­nus of the 2011 CLS Kore­an pro­gram in Jeon­ju, South Korea. His sum­mer on the CLS Pro­gram fol­lowed his final under­grad­u­ate year at the Insti­tute of Amer­i­can Indi­an and Alas­ka Native Cul­ture, where he stud­ied Fine and Stu­dio Arts. He also holds a master’s degree in paint­ing from Savan­nah Col­lege of Art and Design. He’s taught in a vari­ety of spaces and par­tic­i­pat­ed in artist res­i­den­cies at The Ver­mont Stu­dio Cen­ter and Ox-Bow School of Art. Mar­cus is cur­rent­ly an art instruc­tor at Rich­mond Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege in North Car­oli­na, where he teach­es paint­ing, art appre­ci­a­tion, and drawing.

Just hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple and being open with them about what we did cul­tur­al­ly where I’m from; I’ve always want­ed to share that with people.”

Nine years after com­plet­ing the CLS Pro­gram in South Korea, Mar­cus is still pas­sion­ate about lan­guage and the impor­tance of inter­cul­tur­al exchange. As an enrolled mem­ber of the Tus­caro­ra Nation of North Car­oli­na and the Pee Dee Tribe of South Car­oli­na, Mar­cus val­ued the oppor­tu­ni­ty to serve as a cit­i­zen diplo­mat to his host community.

Mar­cus was able to dis­cuss his unique expe­ri­ence as an Amer­i­can both with his host com­mu­ni­ty and oth­er Amer­i­cans in his cohort. While learn­ing about Kore­an musi­cal and dance tra­di­tions, he had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to share some tra­di­tion­al songs par­tic­u­lar to the Tus­caro­ra peo­ple, which he grew up per­form­ing with his fam­i­ly in a com­mu­ni­ty dance troupe, tour­ing the South­east­ern Unit­ed States to per­form at fes­ti­vals. He enjoyed shar­ing this aspect of his cul­ture not only with Kore­ans, but also with oth­er Amer­i­cans who were not famil­iar with it. He remem­bers it as being very reward­ing, just hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple and being open with them about what we did cul­tur­al­ly where I’m from; I’ve always want­ed to share that with people.”

In turn, Mar­cus want­ed to be sure to be respect­ful of his sur­round­ings and the com­mu­ni­ty in which he was a guest. Being a respon­si­ble cit­i­zen diplo­mat while abroad was very impor­tant to Mar­cus, and he felt that this approach would open him up to learn­ing about his host cul­ture while enjoy­ing him­self along the way. He par­tic­u­lar­ly remem­bers learn­ing about and see­ing pan­sori per­for­mances, a Kore­an genre of tra­di­tion­al musi­cal sto­ry­telling. In doing so, he had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn some pan­sori drum­ming, while being cog­nizant of the con­text in which the musi­cal form exist­ed. I want­ed to make sure that it was okay to explore that, that how we pre­sent­ed it was accu­rate and respect­ful, under­stand­ing that I was an outsider.”

Mar­cus feels it is impor­tant for Amer­i­cans to learn crit­i­cal lan­guages, not just for cul­tur­al exchange that hap­pens abroad, but also to sup­port com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States. Con­sid­er­ing com­mu­ni­ties near him in the Unit­ed States where there are sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Kore­an immi­grants, he says, hav­ing peo­ple in those sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties who have learned the lan­guage opens them up to wel­com­ing immi­grants who may feel iso­lat­ed.” He empha­sizes that, putting your­self in some­one else’s shoes” helps you to be more empath­ic and under­stand­ing of oth­ers, some­thing that he feels is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant in this moment.

Since the CLS Pro­gram, Mar­cus has applied his pas­sion for lan­guages to Creek and Tus­caro­ra. These lan­guages are impor­tant for cer­e­mo­ni­al pur­pos­es and, even if you don’t speak them every day, so many native lan­guages have died out even in the past 20 years,” says Mar­cus, who wants to help to keep these lan­guages alive. Mar­cus also says that par­tic­i­pat­ing in the CLS Pro­gram, ignit­ed his desire” to explore the world and see how oth­ers live. It has prompt­ed him to apply for oth­er selec­tive and inten­sive pro­grams, like artists’ res­i­den­cies, and to con­tin­u­al­ly be open to new expe­ri­ences and places.

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Marcus Dunn
Marcus Dunn
Korean 2011

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Posted Date

November 24, 2020