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High School in NY Observes Hangeul Day

Posted October. 09, 2009 07:41,   


Dobbs Ferry High School is about a 50-minute drive from Manhattan. A Dong-A Ilbo reporter visited the school Wednesday, seeing banners reading, “Today, October 7, is Hangeul Day” at many locations, including the entrance to the library, classrooms, corridors and steps.

Posters on the wall also promoted events to introduce Korea and teach the Korean alphabet on the occasion of Hangeul Day.

The school observed the day for the first time this year ahead of Hangeul Day, which is today in Korea. Dobbs Ferry is a small school with around 460 students, most of whom are the children of middle class whites. Less than 10 of the student body are ethnic Koreans.

Nevertheless, the school is observing Hangeul Day through commemorative events due to Dobbs Ferry Principal Keith Ki-dong Yi, who took over the school four years ago, and Marion Halberg, a teacher of English.

Lee and Halberg led the effort to observe Hangeul Day at the school in the hope of teaching students foreign cultures in a natural fashion.

Around 9:50 a.m., the Dong-A reporter was guided by the principal to a classroom where a Hangeul Day event was about to start. Students began to move in and some 30 filled the classroom soon after.

The event was hosted by the Dobbs Ferry International Club, a group of students studying foreign cultures, and Halberg, the club’s adviser. On display at the entrance to the classroom was a map of the Korean Peninsula using the term “East Sea,” booklets on legendary Joseon Dynasty admiral Yi Sun-shin, Korean foods including kimchi, and 5,000-won and 1,000-won Korean banknotes.

Halberg introduced hangeul vowels and consonants to students, and instructed them to repeat the Korean words for car, school and classroom.

Principal Yi helped out, saying hangeul was developed by King Sejong the Great of the Joseon Dynasty around 560 years ago to allow laypeople to easily communicate with each other.

Afterwards, three ethnic Korean students taught their classmates how to write their names in Korean. Students participating in the event included not only Americans but also the children of immigrants from around 10 countries, including Mexico, Ecuador, China, Iran, India, Pakistan and Russia.

Sarah, a 10th grader, said, “I wrote hangeul for the first time and it’s very different from English but beautiful,” adding, “I will repeatedly practice writing my name in hangeul at home.”

Halberg said, “I organized the event after hearing about Hangeul Day from the principal, and we had far more students coming than I expected.”

“Students who attended today’s event will have more friendly feelings toward Korea and hangeul.”