Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

IMSA-KSA Student Exchange Provides Immersion Beyond the Classroom

By Assistant to the Principal Margaret Hernandez

At the beginning of the second semester, exchange students from the Korean Science Academy (KSA) in Busan, South Korea arrived at IMSA for a two-week stay as part of the IMSA-KSA Student Exchange Program.

The Korean Science Academy is South Korea’s national school for students academically talented in science and math.  The international exchange with KSA began in the fall of 2006.  

During the student exchange, six KSA students lived with IMSA students in the residential halls, attended IMSA classes and went home with students during extended weekend.

The six students from KSA  (five boys and one girl) were Naye Choi,  Gi Hyun Jeon, Youngsuk Lee, Chanho Min, Young Joo Song and Donghuyn Yang.

Their IMSA roommates were Lizz Bartos, Bonny Jain, Jonathon Loucks, Jamie Ray, Shyam Saladi, Saurin Shah, Milan Udawatta, Kenny Wang, Cody Ward and Allan Yang.

Katie Evans, who hosted Chanho Min during her extended weekend at her Springfield home, had prior experience with an international student exchange. Previously, she had hosted a girl from Japan her sophomore year through a program in Springfield.

“I think both of my experiences have been really rewarding,” Evans said.  “You learn a lot about another culture and you teach a lot to the student who stays with you. Also, in my experience, the students who come to America are very friendly and accepting.”

Assistant the the Principal Margaret Hernandez organized the student exchange with the assistance of IMSA parents, faculty, students and in particular, IMSA's Korean American Student Association (KASA).  

KASA Board member Christine Pak said the opportunity for IMSA students to participate in an international exchange such as this is very rewarding.

“I see the exchange program as a great chance to meet with Korean students and to learn about differences between KSA and IMSA,” Pak said.  “We all have the chance to experience a different style of learning and culture.”

There will also be a similar two-week exchange during IMSA’s spring break for IMSA students interested in experiencing the KSA life in Busan, Korea.

“Students learned a lot about Korean culture. One example is sa-mul-nori, which is a Korean traditional instrumental band,” Pak said.  “They learned how to play different Korean traditional instruments.”