North Idaho College adopted another sister college last week, bringing the number of its sibling schools to four.
NIC President Bob Bennett and NIC board Chairman Norm Gissel traveled to Chung Cheong Junior College last week in Chung Ju, South Korea, where they signed an agreement to exchange students and ideas.
“What I hope is we can provide an opportunity for not only students to come over here but also for our faculty members and students to go over there,” Bennett said Monday.
Traveling with them was Dan Kim, a Korean and Coeur d’Alene real estate agent who is a friend of the president of the South Korean junior college. Kim acted as interpreter.
NIC has sister junior colleges in Cranbrook, British Columbia; Nagasaki, Japan; and Takasaki, Japan.
The most active relationship is with the Nagasaki Junior College. Ten to 20 students from there visit NIC for three weeks each year to practice their English, share their culture and learn about the rural United States.
NIC officials are using that model to bring as many as 20 students from South Korea to NIC twice a year, beginning as soon as this summer.
NIC negotiated a $2,000 price for each Korean student who studies in Coeur d’Alene for six weeks. The price will drop, however, because the students are likely to come for only four weeks, Bennett said.
“They were impressed with our program,” Bennett said of Chung Cheong school officials.
“They like the idea of coming to a smaller community.”
Chung Cheong Junior College is about the same size as NIC and emphasizes vocational training.
It is about 70 miles southeast of Seoul.
NIC officials doubt many students will be interested in attending an exchange program in Chung Ju. The cost would be prohibitive for some, and the language is difficult - although not as difficult as Japanese or Chinese, Gissel said.
“We may be able to offer them more than they can offer us, quite frankly,” he said.
However, just having those students on campus and in Coeur d’Alene will benefit people here, he added.
“It’s a tremendous learning experience for our students and their students,” Gissel said.
“They get to rub shoulders with each other and develop a true appreciation of the value and worth of the other culture.”
NIC is seeking host families for Chung Cheong students this summer.
If interested, call Kathryn Hunt, coordinator of foreign study programs, 769-3224.