Critical Language Scholarship Program | The Most Transformational…

The Most Transformational Summer of My Life

This summer was the most transformational summer of my life. By the end of my CLS Korean program, not only has my speaking ability dramatically improved but my reading, writing, grammar, and listening skills have all grown immensely. It was such a rewarding experience to get out of class every day and be able to use what I had just learned in real life. 

I had many unforgettable cultural enrichment experiences visiting places like Gamcheon Culture Village, Bukchon Hanok, and the beautiful Gyeongbokgung palace. During these experiences, I not only had the privilege of learning Korean language but I also discovered a new culture, history, philosophy, literature, and, most importantly, people. I’ve made friendships and memories this summer that I know will last a lifetime. 

Rana in Gamcheon Cultural Village during her CLS Korean Program in Busan, South Korea.

As a pre-dental student, going to South Korea was a window into a different healthcare system and an invaluable learning opportunity. I currently work as a registered dental assistant and I saw so many opportunities for U.S. dental healthcare to benefit from Korean dentistry.  I visited many dental clinics and even had the opportunity to interview Korean dental healthcare workers. Through these conversations, I discovered new topic areas for my dental research. I have already written a paper about South Korean preventative dental health practices that could be implemented in the U.S. There are so many opportunities for research and collaboration between the U.S. and South Korea in the  medical field. l plan to apply what I've learned from South Korea's preventative healthcare system to make a difference in the dentistry field. 

This experience also gave me a deeper understanding of my parent's experience immigrating to the U.S. When I was two years old, my parents received a green card and immigrated from Turkey without any knowledge of the English language. They didn’t know a single person in America and had to find their own path through a lot of trial and error. I grew up hearing stories about their experience and I always thought I could imagine how difficult it must have been, I was wrong. Before my time in Korea, I could’ve never understood the difficulty of doing simple day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping when you can’t speak the language. Every day that I faced challenges in Korea I had the opportunity to experience a small part of what my parents must have felt moving to America. This experience has given me a better understanding of what it's like to be an immigrant and a greater empathy for the hardships my parents overcame. 

My time in Korea began a lifelong journey of exploration and learning that I can’t wait to continue. CLS allowed me to maximize my academic, professional, and personal gains from this experience and it has opened up so many opportunities to make a positive impact on my community and the medical field. I can’t wait to share my experiences with my community back home and continue this journey!

Rana Yelen is an undergraduate student at the University of Central Arkansas majoring in Biology and studying on the pre-dental track. Rana participated in the 2022 CLS Korean program in Busan, South Korea hosted by Pusan National University. In the future, Rana plans to collaborate with the PNU School of Dentistry on research as she continues her journey of discovery and learning. 

Posted Date

August 24, 2022



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