Ramisa Murshed is an alumna of the 2019 CLS Korean program in Gwangju, South Korea. She’s finishing her junior year at Barnard College, where she majors in Computer Science and minors in East Asian Studies. She plans to study abroad again in South Korea to continue strengthening her language skills and learn about Korea’s tech industry. She also hopes to apply her Korean skills to her interests in music and journalism to help underground Korean musicians reach a wider audience.
I was born in the U.S. and spent most of my upbringing in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. My parents are both immigrants from Bangladesh, and because they grew up in a completely different environment from mine, I sometimes found it difficult to find ways to connect with them. The town in which I grew up was very culturally diverse, so we often spent time together learning about different cultures, in ways ranging from watching the news to become more socio-politically aware to eating in restaurants of various ethnic cuisines. From this, I was able to craft a closer bond with my parents and develop a greater appreciation for cultures other than my own.
I was introduced to Korean culture by my best friend who loved K‑pop and Korean food. Not having had much exposure to the language, I chose to study Korean in college. Through my coursework, I developed a deeper appreciation for Korean culture. However, I felt that, living in the U.S., my perception of Korean culture wasn’t complete; it was composed mainly of things I learned at school and on the internet and a romanticized version of Korea. In order to gain a better understanding of Korean culture, I felt that it was necessary to participate in a program like CLS.
I knew nothing about Gwangju prior to the CLS Program, so when I found out I would be studying there for eight weeks, I didn’t really know what to expect. I learned it was a city with rich history, filled with friendly people who will always make you feel welcome, regardless of who you are or what you look like. I learned a lot about the history of democracy in Korea and the Gwangju Uprising, as students from my host institution were directly involved in it. After a walk around Yangnim-dong with my language partner, I learned a lot about the American missionaries who built homes there. I developed a greater interest in Korean history and politics thanks to CLS giving me the opportunity to study Korean in a place where I could see the history first-hand.
Career Goals and Korean Language
During the CLS Program, I developed an interest in natural language processing in relation to non-English languages. I hope to apply this technology to the field of healthcare, collaborating with Korean tech companies to create technologies to help alleviate global healthcare issues.
Teaching and Learning
A friend’s language partner was the president of the English club at our host university, and he asked us and a few of our other friends to come to one of the club’s meetings to help students practice speaking English. At the meeting, we conversed with the students and learned more about their motivations for strengthening their English skills. Using our Korean language skills, we were able to explain English concepts that were difficult to translate. Being language learners ourselves, we were able to provide the students with tips for improving their English that we often used to improve our Korean. Having this experience really changed the way I approached studying language, as I was able to learn from both my friends in the cohort and the students in the English club.
Upon returning to the U.S. after CLS, I found many ways to share what I had learned during the program. I introduced my friends to a lot of the foods I tried and loved in Korea, particularly the dishes that are specific to Gwangju and the South Jeolla Province. I was also able to share my experiences in Gwangju with my classmates, from talking about the distinct dialect found in Gwangju in my Korean class to discussing some of the things I’ve learned about the May 18 Democratic Uprising in my East Asian studies seminars.
April 29, 2020