Glenn Danielson

Name: Glenn Danielson
Graduation Year: 2008
Majors: East Asian Languages and Cultures and Linguistics

My Miami experience opened the doors to the best decision I ever made: living and working abroad. I received my undergraduate degrees in 2008 in East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) in the Department of GREAL and Linguistics in the Department of English (now an Interdisciplinary Program in the College of Arts and Science). While my country of focus in the EALC program was Japan, upon graduation I decided to live and work in South Korea. This was mainly due to the fact that my mother is Korean-American and so from a young age I have had a strong family tie to Korean culture.

Before moving to Korea, I was able to experience life in East Asia firsthand by studying abroad in Japan and China during my time at Miami. In the summer of 2005, I received transfer credit for a Japanese summer study abroad program coordinated through the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in Hikone, Japan. I also studied abroad through GREAL's summer Chinese program at Tianjin Foreign Studies University in Tianjin, China during the summer of 2007. These were my first encounters in Asia and I enjoyed every minute. Having had these experiences, I decided to move to Korea immediately after graduation in order to learn about another East Asian economic giant and meet my mother's extended family at the same time.

Since 2008, I have been working in Korea's capital, Seoul, as an ESL instructor for children, university students, and adults. I got my start at BIS Academy where I worked with K-4 children preparing for entrance into international schools in Korea. Subsequently, I taught adults at Pagoda Academy where I was able to interact with students from all walks of life—from seniors learning English for fun to university students preparing for big exams. As of 2012, I currently teach at Duksung International Language Center, which serves students and faculty at Duksung Women's University and the surrounding community in Seoul.

My degrees from Miami have given me the practical knowledge needed for my position in addition to preparing me to live and work in a foreign country. Linguistics has been invaluable in my quest to help my students improve their English since it allows me to approach their grammar and vocabulary questions from a more scientific perspective. Because of the similarities between the language of my EALC degree focus, Japanese, and the language of my new environment, Korean, my EALC degree has enabled me to learn Korean more quickly and thus relate to my co-workers, students, and neighbors on a deeper level. Most importantly, however, my EALC degree has also prepared me for the cultural adaptations needed for living in East Asia.

Having spent time in Japan, China, and Korea, I have found that the biggest cultural difference between East Asia and the West to which Westerners need to adapt is the social philosophy of Confucianism. Although Confucian thought originated in China, these days its influence is strongly felt throughout East Asia. The main goal of Confucianism is to achieve group harmony through respect for hierarchical relationships, such as those of teacher and student, senior and junior, and parent and child.

My EALC program courses made me well aware of the importance of Confucianism in East Asia. Linguistically, my Japanese, Chinese, and Korean language classes reinforced the importance placed on the appropriate usage of plain, humble, and honorific speech forms in different social contexts. Culturally, my classes covering the history, literature, and art of East Asia opened my eyes as to how Confucian philosophy has shaped contemporary politics, business, and family life in the region.

I would strongly recommend living and working abroad to anyone who wants to learn about another language and culture, gain a different perspective on their home culture, or learn about themselves. I certainly have Miami's Linguistics program and EALC program to thank for preparing me for my life-changing experience abroad.