The best part about this program is its low-cost to FCPS: since the students are sponsored by the Korean government, Fairfax merely facilitates pairing the student teachers with Fairfax teachers. In the case of the Korean intern program, current and former School Board members Ilryong Moon, Sandy Evans, Janet Oleszek and I took them on many excursions in our free time.
As a result of the program, Fairfax students and teachers are exposed to Korean culture and different pedagogical methods. The Fairfax community benefits, as well, since these students will return to their respective communities and relay the great experiences they had in Fairfax County and Virginia, raising our profile for economic development. Most importantly, America benefits since many of these students will return to the US for graduate school or work, reversing the worrisome brain drain that occurs after many students from abroad receive US degrees.
One of my priorities on the school board is to strategically increase these student and teacher exchanges, focusing first on the rising superpowers that have expressed interest: China, India and Brazil.
The Obama administration and foreign governments have begun funding similar joint “100,000 Strong Initiatives” for study abroad exchanges in Latin America and China at the University level, which have revealed the intense desire of foreign governments to have their students study and teach in the US, particularly in the STEM disciplines. If we can attract their best and brightest education students to teach our students in the STEM disciplines, they can help stave off America’s current shortage of STEM teachers.
Today, the 2012 class of Korean interns leaves us, but they’ll be back. After all, we’ve invited them to stay with us in beautiful Fairfax County whenever they return.