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Civil engineering student serves as English tutor in South Korea

While working as an English tutor in South Korea, mehanical and civil engineering student Wyatt Jenkins was able to visit Wankyo Seo, of Busan, South Korea, who he met when Seo was an exchange student.

Many University of Missouri engineering students spend their summer vacations working as interns for engineering firms, and some spend time relaxing at home with friends and family. Wyatt Jenkins, a senior in civil and environmental engineering, spent his summer as a volunteer, teaching English in South Korea.

Jenkins was one of 70 students from Mizzou and Portland State University selected to participate in the tutoring program, though he was the only engineer in the group. An MU ambassador for Korean students last spring, Jenkins said he has always maintained an interest in the learning opportunities of other cultures and people.

The English tutoring program, sponsored by the Asian Affairs Center and the Jeollanam Provincial Government of South Korea, offered five camps at different schools in which teams of 14 teachers would teach intensive English courses six hours a day for eight days to approximately 150 students.

“Programs like this are beneficial to everyone. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you step out of your comfort zone and try something new and different,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins taught elementary school children at Daebul University in Yeongam County of Jeollanam-do, South Korea. Because one student volunteer contracted swine flu this summer, the group spent an entire week in quarantine at Jeollanam-do Youth Education Facility in Wando.

Other volunteers included graduate or undergraduate students in education, English or various health-related fields, but Jenkins feels his background as an engineer paid-off.

“Many times, as a head teacher at my camp, I had to solve problems. Due to my training as an engineer, I could visualize a problem in my head and then, while talking with others, develop an “attack” plan. Each time, I was able to solve the problem efficiently,” Jenkins said.

While in Korea, Jenkins was able to visit Wankyo Seo, of Busan, South Korea. The two became good friends when Seo participated in an exchange program with MU last semester.

A 2006 graduate of Festus High School near St. Louis, Jenkins currently, serves as an undergraduate research assistant with Professor Erik Loehr. He plans to graduate this December and potentially attend graduate school.

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