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Jun Hwa Jeong

Numbers: Changes for a Student from Korea

by Jun Hwa Jeong Monday, January 26, 2015

9,631,482 / 243,344
This is the number of people living in Seoul vs Madison. While having lived in Seoul for almost 40 years, in the center of the city which has a greater population than New York, I always dreamed of daily life in a small town with lakes and forests (although I never thought that it would be in the United States). Needless to say, I could not be more satisfied with what I face day after day here in Madison. I will never forget the pale glow of fireflies that welcomed me when I first arrived at my new apartment. Besides the peaceful surroundings, great facilities such as Overture Center and the artistic atmosphere are a thankful bonus. 

143 / 4
Before I came here, I had been working for more than 12 years for Arts Council Korea, the national government agency that promotes arts and culture, and now I am working for the Wisconsin Arts Board as a project assistant. Although the size of the staffs are quite different, I think that the passion and work ethic in trying to contribute to the arts ecosystem are pretty much alike. The distinct difference in the arts scene between the two countries is that arts organizations in the United States are highly endowed by philanthropy, while there is much more support by the government sector in Korea. Although there are some cultural and historical gaps, I think that working as an arts administrator to serve public benefits is a great thing to do everywhere, as there is no borderline in the arts.

10 / 5
There were ten people that I saw every day in my former department at Arts Council Korea and there are 5 students in the first year of Bolz Center who I see almost every day. Whether it is in the office or school, working as a team is always like a medicine, necessary although sometimes bringing side-effects. But, as I worked with my staff members like a family, I think that meeting my colleagues here is a great fortune for me. Although all of us are from different backgrounds, they greeted me as a friend and helped me adapt to totally new circumstances. Discussions during the class time with these colleagues are always both enjoyable and instructive, giving me lots of inspirations. Besides the people that I meet in school, I am quite impressed by the thing that is called Midwest culture. What a beautiful scene it is to say ‘Thank you’ to bus drivers!  

1 / 1
While it is never a boastful thing, South Korea is famous for its longest working hours among OECD countries. There is an office worker’s silly joke that when Americans say ‘We can do it’, Koreans say ‘Weekend do it’. It was usual for me to go to my office on Sunday although no one who ordered me to do so, thus, Saturday was the only day that I could spend whole time with my two sons. And, being different to the usual assumption, that situation did not change much after I became a student again. As there were lots of tasks on my desk that I had to do for the arts scene and my organization, there are also lots of assignments to complete to develop myself as an MBA student. But that is what I assumed before I came here and the thing that I willingly volunteered for my career. Besides the programs inside Grainger Hall, I have had precious opportunities to meet lots of professionals at the APAP Conference in New York, theaters like American Players Theatre in Spring Green, and the applied learning trip to Chicago. Although I would like to pursue my career in my lovely mother country, I believe that every day that I spend here will be a huge asset for the rest of my life. I am quite sure that the Bolz Center is the cornerstone for me to become a better arts administrator.

On Wisconsin!