by Bryan Lindenberger
To truly appreciate all Carrollton has to offer, it helps to see through the eyes of a stranger from far away.
The University of West Georgia Department of Geosciences recently hosted 26 geography students from Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea. Dr. Jeong C. Seong, professor of geospatial technologies, organized the visit with help from counterparts at Kyung Hee, including geography professor Dr. Chul Sue Hwang.
The students studied geosciences, including technical mapping with geographic information systems (GIS). Their three-week visit included classroom time, hands-on workshops using drones and mapping software, and a climb atop Stone Mountain to observe its unique geologic properties.
But much of their two-week visit emphasized learning about U.S. language and culture – southern culture in particular. Students immersed themselves in the American lifestyle by residing at Arbor View Apartments on UWG’s 645-acre campus, an experience they will always remember.
“I really love Carrollton,” said Rachel Jun, a first-year student on her first visit to the United States. “I felt very peaceful here. When I go down the street, the people all say ‘hello’ to me.”
Sophia Kim also experienced the warmth and hospitality known in this region. A junior in geography and minoring in management, Kim especially enjoyed Carrollton’s downtown area.
“We went to the Corner Café and Gallery Row,” she said. “It was so fantastic, and I felt like an American being there.”
“I liked learning about the southern culture,” said Roy Lim, a sophomore who is interested in GIS technology uses for tourism. Although he has visited Guam, this was his first trip to the U.S. mainland. “I love the food and lifestyles of the southern people. If I return to the United States, I again want to visit the southeast.”
Of course, there was plenty of science to go along with the language and cultural immersion. Students deepened their understanding of GIS technology by collecting information collected during drone flights and processing it with software such as Pix4D, ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap.
“The 2018 Geospatial Summer Workshop is our third year hosting students from Kyung Hee University,” Seong said. “Students focused on southeastern geography, landform, environmental issues, human rights, and also Korean-American businesses such as the KIA plant in West Point, Georgia.”
Five student assistants helped make sure things went smoothly for UWG’s guests. These included two UWG geoscience majors, Henrick Gordon and Michael Griffin.
Heather Ivester, an area schoolteacher, assisted students with their English. Ivester even entertained the students with a farmhouse dinner party complete with homemade southern cuisine.
“The students really liked that,” Seong said. “They enjoyed fried okra and other local foods.”
Seeing Carrollton through another’s eyes serves as a helpful reminder of all there is to appreciate here in West Georgia. For the students, the experience provided them with an opportunity to apply their science skills in a new language and unfamiliar society, an important skill in an era of globalization and inter-connectedness.