Just over a month after closing the door on one chapter of his life, Kyle Ferrier took flight.
Upon graduating from George Mason University, Ferrier, BA ’11 economics & government and international politics, packed his bags and traveled to South Korea, where he is currently an English teaching assistant at a middle school. His trip was made possible by the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, which he won in 2011.
Ferrier first became interested in South Korea during his junior year, when he took a class on East Asian political economy and studied the communication technology of that region as an intern for the State Department.
“Examining the intricacies of both North and South Korea and their obvious policy differences on economic issues fascinated me,” Ferrier said. “It came to a point where I decided I needed to go to South Korea and learn more about the divide from a first-hand perspective. ”
The Fulbright program was Ferrier’s ticket to the country that would answer his questions.
After successfully completing the very competitive Fulbright selection process, Ferrier earned the opportunity to travel to South Korea in July 2011. He has lived with a South Korean family since then, and teaches at a nearby school. The grant is structured to allow Ferrier to study the Korean language, volunteer with North Korean refugees and work on other academic research projects while there. The experience, he said, has been personally and professionally fulfilling.
“Most of my lessons revolve around teaching English through American culture and challenging students to think critically, something which I have found is not as stressed in the Korean educational system as it is in the United States or England,” Ferrier said. “My role as a teacher has provided me with great insight into Korean life and I have been able to get very candid answers from teachers and students about prominent controversial issues both within the country and the region.”
Ferrier is very familiar with studying abroad.
While at Mason, Ferrier traveled abroad through the Oxford Honors Program run by the Center for Global Education at Mason. In Oxford, he studied economics intensively, writing weekly essays on the subject, which he defended and explained during class.
“Although I consider my time in Oxford as one of the most vexing in my life, it was undoubtedly my most rewarding academic experience,” he said. “The amount of preparation required as well as the level of analysis expected for each essay pushed me to critically understand the topics at hand.”
In the future, Ferrier plans to learn about relationships between Southeast Asian governments and business sectors while studying economic development since the 1970s. He would like to go to graduate school and work with the federal government, but he will always welcome more opportunities to travel.
“I have been fortunate enough to have both a formal and informal education while studying abroad,” he said. “Both have been very rewarding and enriching experiences.”
March 05, 2012