The trip itself would have been enough. But juniors Hannah Nooney and Robert MacGregor can now also say that the CMC-Yonsei Summer Program in Seoul was the time they enteredand in Hannah's case, wonThe Korea Times' seventh annual international English Economic Essay Contest for University Students.
"It proves that if we put the brain power of our students behind competitions like this, we can easily succeed," Professor Manfred Keil of the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance said, when the newspaper recently announced the winning essayists.
It was shortly after Keil arrived in Seoul this past summer, with 10 CMC students in tow, that he realized The Korea Times was sponsoring the competition, "which sort of fit into the theme of our program," he said. Largely cultivated by Trustee Jim Bemowski '76 P'07 P'09, the program was a five-week partnership between July and August with Yonsei University, in which Keil co-led courses in international business, macroeconomics, and the global economy with Yonsei Business School's Dr. Jaehoon Hahn. CMC's 10 undergrads were joined in the classroom by 10 students from Yonsei, and also shared dorm rooms with them. The program included a leadership component, an understanding of business relations between the United States and East Asia, an understanding of historical and cross-cultural contexts, and an appreciation of learning from fellow students with different cultural backgrounds.
Between field trips with students to financial centers and businesses throughout Korea, as well as a four-day trip to Hong Kong, Keil was chewing on the Korea Times essay idea, and its coincidental relevance to their coursework. "So Professor Hahn and I decided to have the 20 students write an eight-page essay on the respective themes" outlined by the newspaper, he said. The paper determined that Korean students were to write about the biggest impediments for Korea's overseas expansion, while international students were asked to come up with ideas to make Korea more attractive to Korean investors.
"We felt that the CMC students had a better chance of winning, since out of the previous year's 1,300 or so entries, only 300 came from abroad," Keil noted.
It was hard work and CMCers, as well as their Yonsei classmates, spent hours developing their papers. But the work paid off. Nooney placed first in the international category with her essay, Fortress Korea: South Korea's Internal Struggle with Foreign Investment, and MacGregor finished third. The Korea Times is expected to publish the winning essays in a special issue on Tuesday, Nov. 1 commemorating its 61st anniversary. As a Grand Award winner, Nooneywho said she was tediously editing her essay right up to the deadlinewill be awarded a round-trip ticket from Los Angeles to Seoul.
"Thus far it is a bit unclear what the parameters of the ticket are," she said. "But if I am allowed to hold onto if for a while, I would like to use it for a longer trip, flying in and out of Seoul but also taking time to explore more of Asia."
The newspaper named just one second-place international winner: Guillaume Darier, an M.A. candidate in banking and finance at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, who will receive a laptop computer. Commendation Awards winners were: Korea University Business School student Lee Seong-min; Samuel Gendreau, an international relations student at the University of British Columbia, Canada; and CMC's Robert MacGregor. Each, including MacGregor, will be awarded a round-trip ticket from Seoul to Jeju Island, the Korean Hawaii.
"I really, really loved Seoul," says MacGregor, an economics/international relations major. "The city was relatively inexpensive, had fantastic public transportation (the subway was great), tons of fun things to do, and lots of places to visit. Yonsei University was in a college district' so it had a very young vibe to it and there were always a lot of college kids out and about."
The 10 CMC students who participated were: Sean Adler '13, Christopher Blomberg '13, Karen Chen '14, Hye Won Chung '14, Nathan Hayes-Roth '13, Robert MacGregor '13, Joseph Newbry '14, Hannah Nooney '13, Igor Tischenko '13, and Kathryn Yao '14.
MacGregor says he flew to Korea not knowing much about the country or its culture. "If you had asked me what type of government they have, what the top companies are, and what the state of the economy is, I would have had no clue," he says. "But throughout the program, and by its end, I had learned so much about Korea and its culture. It helped that we were living with Korean roommates in our program. And I learned a lot just from interacting with our Korean peers."
Kathryn Yao, a literature/economics major agreed. "We all became very good friends by the end of the trip. And I learned so much about the Korean culture because my roommate was from Yonsei," she said. "I loved having my Korean peers in class for discussionsto hear their opinions and perspectives."
Some of the companies students visited on field trips, included: Doosan Infracore, Nomura Securities, Mirae Asset Management, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, and Homeplus. The field trips allowed students to tour facilities and participate in Q&A sessions with the companies' top executives.