IYO to bring South Korea to campus

Madison Martin

After two years of integrating Ecuadorian and South African flavor into WKU curriculum and events, South Korea will take center stage for the 2016-2017 International Year Of (IYO) school year.

According to the website of IYO’s originator, the Office of International Programs, this annual program endeavors to offer WKU “a rich, complex sense of place and interconnectedness through a year-long celebration of a single country.”

IYO South Korea will begin with a faculty-staff focused opening reception this Thursday at the University Gallery in the fine arts center. Two exhibits (underneath the title ASPECTS) will be displayed until the end of September, called Works by Korean Artists in America and New Media Art by Korean Artists.

One of the artists, Wonju Seo, will provide remarks at the reception. Displayed are two of her bojagi pieces, something Gallery Director and Associate Professor of Art Kristina Arnold likes to call “crazy quilting.” The pieces displayed in the Works by Korean Artists in America exhibit can be characterized by their utilization of traditional items such as scrolls and watercolors, which are then transformed into something more modern.

“These artists are all taking traditional cultural … ideas from traditional materials as a starting point and then bringing that into kind of contemporary American culture,” Arnold said.

Katherine Paschetto, programming coordinator for the Office of Internationalization, said the late-September event Chuseok, the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving, will be a student-geared launch for IYO South Korea, with food and giveaways happening in Centennial Mall. More events have been scheduled for the fall with others continuing to be finalized for the spring.

As the third year of IYO begins, Paschetto said an exciting development has been the promise of further class integration, with over 60 courses slated to make South Korea relevant across departments.

“I think as kind of the years go on and people start to realize more and more what the program is, we see more people kind of wanting to get involved,” Paschetto said.

Students can look forward to the International Year of South Korea Film Festival beginning next month, which will showcase six Korean films of varying genres.

A presentation particularly relevant to those with an interest in political science and gender studies will be in November, entitled The Effects of Gender Quotas in the South Korean Legislative Elections, with a speaker brought in by assistant professor of political science, Timothy Rich.

“The goal is to be able to cross disciplines whenever possible to have a broader appeal, so it’s not just something that will only appeal to the people taking one particular class,” Rich said. “It should appeal to multiple classes and to the community for that matter.”

Ultimately, IYO is an opportunity for not only WKU and the surrounding community to interact with another country’s culture, but is also a way for staff and faculty from across campus to work for a mutual cause.

“Being able to have that cross-conversation [between departments] I think is one of the benefits of having an umbrella like [International] Year of South Korea,” Arnold said, “because we’re discussing essentially a common theme and approaching it from different ways.

Reporter Madison Martin can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]