THE KOREA SOCIETY

is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization with individual and corporate members that is dedicated solely to the promotion of greater awareness, understanding, and cooperation between the people of the United States and Korea. Learn more about us here.

PROJECT BRIDGE OVERVIEW



PROJECT BRIDGE OVERVIEW



Project Bridge, whose name captures the goal of reaching across ethnic and cultural divides, aims to help young people develop insights and skills needed to “bridge” the gaps between people of divergent cultural heritages. By fostering greater intercultural awareness and understanding, it empowers the youth ambassadors to view social and cultural differences as a pathway - not a barrier - to exercise their responsibilities as emerging young leaders in an increasingly interconnected and richly diverse world while educating them on the long-standing and close relationship between the peoples of Korea and the U.S.


U.S. Partners:
The Korea Society in New York and the Pacific Century Institute in Los Angeles partnered together to develop the Program in response to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots that erupted on April 27 (Sa-I-Gu in Korean). The first delegation of urban “Youth Ambassadors” was sent to the Republic of Korea in 1993 on a program named Kids to Korea. Twenty-seven years later Project Bridge welcomed a new demographic and partner, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana in Missoula, bringing a diverse rural and Indigenous perspective to the Program.

 

   

Students:
Open to junior and senior public high school students in New York, Los Angeles, and Missoula, the Program attracts applications from students of different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. Through a highly selective application process eight students from Los Angeles, eight students from New York and four students from Montana were selected to become the 2019-2020 Youth Ambassadors.

 

   

Los Angeles Youth Ambassadors
 
Missoula Youth Ambassadors
 
New York City Youth Ambassadors



Curriculum:
The Program has evolved into an academic year-long program in which students, using Korea as a case study, cultivate their understanding of race relations and hone their leadership and intercultural competence skills. Students participate in bi-monthly workshops offered both in-person and virtually. They undertake a 10-day study tour to the Republic of Korea. Finally, the Program culminates in community presentations and a graduation ceremony.

 



Workshops:
In the bi-monthly workshop students are introduced to a wide range of topics spanning Korean history, the Korean war, education in Korea, arts and cultural values as well as Shamanism, Confucianism and Buddhism’s impact on the culture. They explore current events, U.S. and regional relationships, and the economic factors that led to the ‘Miracle on the Han’. Additionally, they investigate race relations in the U.S., specifically the 1992 Sa-I-Gu incident, otherwise known as the Los Angeles riots, the impetus for creating the Program. Outside experts frequently lead lively and informative discussions both in-person with the smaller regional groups and via Zoom with the entire cohort. Students also receive Han’gul language training and etiquette coaching along with preparation for the study tour.





Study tour:
The study tour is a high point of the Program which enables the students to experience Korea socially and culturally. During this all expenses paid ten-day tour students have abundant opportunities to engage with Korean high school students and teachers, corporate leaders, government officials, journalists, monks and many others as they travel around the country experiencing both city and rural life. In the past they have visited ministries, corporations, trade associations, museums, folk villages and universities. They have had home stays with high school students and an overnight stay at a Buddhist temple. Throughout the tour they gain a deeper understanding of the unique and close relationship between the U.S. and Korea.

 

Community Presentation:
The Program culminates in early summer when the youth ambassadors share their newly acquired knowledge and insights about Korea with their families, friends and the greater community. These community presentations are open to the public and precede a graduation ceremony. These Project Bridge “graduates” join an alumni group that now numbers over 400.

 

Sponsors:
It is only with the expert guidance and generous hospitality of our Korean hosts and sponsors that we have been able to sustain the Project Bridge Program over these many years. Through this support the Korea Society, The Pacific Century Institute, and The Mansfield Center can work with young people to continue to “build bridges” between our two nations. The time students spend with sponsors enhances the invaluable lessons of their Korean experiences and the fond memories of Korea that will endure for a lifetime.


Recent Project Bridge Study Tour Hosts and Sponsors

Corporations, Businesses, Government
*Chong Kun Dang
*Embassy of the United States, Seoul
*Gyeongsangbuk-do Government
*Hyundai Heavy Industries
*Hyundai Motor Company
*Jeollabuk-do Government
*Joongang Ilbo
*JTBC News
*Korean Airlines
*Korea Foundation
*Korea Financial Investment Association
*Korean International Trade Association
*Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs
*Lotte Group
*National Assembly
*POSCO
*U.N. Command Military Armistice Commission
*U.S. 8th U.S. Army
*U.S. Republic of Korea Embassy
Educational
*Banpo High School
*Daedong Taxation High School
*Ewha University
*Jeonbuk Foreign High School
*Poongsan High School

Historical and Cultural
*Busan National Gugak Center
*Bulguksa Temple
*DMZ
*Gyeongbokgung Palace & National Folk Mu-seum
*Insadong Market
*Jagalchi Fish Market
*Namsan Tower
*Kochon Memorial Hall
*Korean War Museum
*Leeum Samsung Museum of Art
*Naesoa Temple
*Seokguram Grotto