South Korean students from Gangbuk Middle School are visiting Canby this week as part of Baker Prairie's Korean Studies program

Students from Daegu, South Korea are staying in the homes of Baker Prairie Middle School students and have joined them at school this week, Oct. 15-19.

Twenty-four Daegu students of Gangbuk Middle School, along with their principal Mr. Chang and English teachers Ms. Bae and Ms. Kwon, arrived on Friday, Oct. 12.

Gangbuk is one of Baker Prairie's two South Korean sister schools as part of the Korean Studies program, in its eleventh year. In January, students from Annam Middle School in Changwon, South Korea will arrive in Canby; and this spring, Baker Prairie students will travel to both Daegu and Changwon.

HERALD PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Gangbuk students perform songs at the welcoming ceremony on Monday, Oct. 15.

At Baker Prairie's welcoming ceremony on Monday, Oct. 15, Baker Prairie teacher Amy Marsh welcomed the Daegu guests and shared her enthusiasm for the sister school relationship.

"Baker Prairie's sister schools relationship with Gangbuk Middle School is truly extraordinary," Marsh said. "It gives our students an opportunity to experience life through a new perspective, travel to amazing places together and make new friends."

She also challenged everyone present to make the most of opportunities like this one.

"In the words of Bill Nye the Science guy, 'Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you do not,' " Marsh said. "So I would encourage us all—students, teachers, guests—be brave. Be brave enough to say hello, to start conversations and ask questions. But most of all, be brave enough to listen. For as we listen, it is then that we grow."

HERALD PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Gangbuk students perform a dance at the welcoming ceremony.

Baker Prairie student Noreth Angelyn led the event as master of ceremonies. Along with Marsh, others took to the microphone, including Chang and students from Baker Prairie and Gangbuk. Students from both schools also shared performances.

"It can be scary to go on new adventures," said Baker Prairie student Morelia Rodriguez to the student guests, "but as you are so far away from your home, please consider us at Baker Prairie as your new family. I bet you never thought that you had so many brothers and sisters."

HERALD PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Baker Prairie students perform a drum routine.

Chang and Gangbuk student Dae-Ho Kim expressed thanks for Baker Prairie's warm welcome, and Chang explained America's significance to many South Koreans.

"America is a very popular country for us Koreans," Chang said. "Many Koreans start English to study in America or to travel to America. I'm one of them.

"America is very special to Korea," he continued. "As you know, our country was divided into two in 1945, South Korea and North Korea. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. The war lasted for three years…More than 33,000 American soldiers sacrificed their lives to defend South Korea and our democracy. They fought against communism. Since then, America has helped Korea in many ways, and we became a rich country. Many Koreans appreciate that."

At the end of the ceremony, Baker Prairie Principal Jennifer Turner and Chang officially exchanged gifts on behalf of the schools.

HERALD PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Mr. Chang shows off the gift he and his Gangbuk students received from Principal Jennifer Turner (right) and Baker Prairie students.

The Gangbuk guests will enjoy outings throughout the week before they return to Daegu on Friday, Oct. 19. But their departure doesn't mean they leave the lives of Baker Prairie students forever.

"Some of the friends you'll make on this trip will last a lifetime," Marsh told students at the ceremony.

Kristen Wohlers
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