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Virtual Town Hall Brief

On Monday, 14th September 2020, Ewha GSIS had a first Virtual Town Hall conducted through Zoom, and fifty-four people attended.

In this meeting, Prof. Heather Willoughby took the role of the MC. Other professors, including Prof. Inpyo Lee, the dean of GSIS, Prof. Kisuk Cho, Prof. Jinhwan Oh, Prof. Jennifer Oh, Prof. Hannah Jun, and Prof. Brendan Howe, joined the meeting, introduced themselves, and gave some advice to the students.

I know that some of you, the newcomers and seniors, had wanted to join us but could not make it. So, I have summarized the key messages that I think will be beneficial for you all.

Campus Tour on Sat 19th September

Dilara, the Ewha GSIS student Council president, informed us that we would have a Campus Tour this Saturday, 19th September (11.30 am). 

“We will try to help other students have a better experience here and also try to act like a bridge between school and students. We will try to help you with the problems you might have. Feel free to reach out to us. Welcome again.”

Apart from the president, the council has Caroline as the Vice President and Ramona as the Treasurer.

Support the international students with The EAASIS program

The EAASIS was established and funded by the Korean government. The purpose of this program is to help our international students better integrate into the campus environment.

Although our GSIS has a very natural integration of international students, compared to the other departments with smaller numbers of international students, we have special programs to help you, especially the first semester students, learn more about the campus. In the past,  the EAASIS programs organized conferences, activities, and field trips. 

“We will do those things as much as possible as we can in the future. One of the things we do is our mentoring program. We pair students who have been here more than one semester with the new students or those who need a little more mentoring.” 

Miae Hwang, a combined Master’s-Ph.D. student, is in charge of this program. She briefly introduced the mentoring program this semester.

“We have seven mentors and forty mentees this year. Even if you are not a mentor or mentee, you still get benefits from this program. Our mentors this year are Caroline, Souhaila, Piyusha, Julienne, Natthakarn, Dilara, and Ruby.”

Q&A session

Hybrid class

Question from Patricia: The second round for choosing the hybrid class was supposed to be now until today. We were supposed to try it out if it was going to work the first two weeks. But technically we haven’t been able to have offline classes. So we haven’t been able to experience how it’s going to be having some of our class members with us in class and having some of the class members. So we don’t know how this is going to be. Is there any chance that we will be able to choose again after we actually have offline classes or we just choose now and it’s going to stay for the whole semester? That quite concerned me as I choose offline for every class, but of course, if I’m going to end up being only by myself in class and everyone is going to be online, it doesn’t really make any sense. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Prof. Willoughby: I think that’s a very good question. Let me give you my personal opinion and the way that I intend to go forth with my class because my class is designated as a hybrid class. So, my first decision is to be based on the university and government. The second choice is that if we are able to meet in person, I will invite anybody who is comfortable to come to campus to do so. But if they are unable to do so then certainly the live videos and the recorded videos will be available. But in terms of what is official, I am keeping my class as a hybrid in case we have the opportunity to do so. My personal opinion is that I will certainly take a survey among my students and see what their preference is and see how they want to proceed and to consult with them. I think that’s very important so that I’m not making a unilateral decision. As you said, if there’s only one student in the physical classroom, that could be a little uncomfortable.

Prof. Lee: As far as I know, there is no decision or a direction from the Ewha headquarter. And I’m sure that they are very confused because the Korean government said that we’ll go back to stage two. So I think the headquarter was thinking about this kind of scenario, and maybe they were contemplating or announcing you to have full online classes for the rest of the semester. Sooner or later, the headquarter will make a decision. But at this stage, I think that if either the students or the professor want it that way, we are going to have these hybrid classes with no problem.

Prof. Willoughby: I think at this moment I know it’s not completely satisfactory, but the best we can say is that we will again follow the guidelines of the university, all the guidelines of the government, to make wise decisions because certainly your health is of utmost importance. Some students simply can’t come onto campus at this time, but if you can and are willing to do so, and the regulations allow it, then I think most professors are willing to accommodate the best way possible. 

Thesis track

Hong Ngoc: This is my second semester master degree in GSIS. And I have a question related to the thesis. I didn’t write my thesis in my bachelor degree, so I have no experience in writing a thesis and knowing that our universities give the students the right to choose whether to study or write the thesis. So I want to consult our professors about what kind of student should write a thesis and which one could just take an extra credit course? Because I know that this takes a lot of work and time.

Prof. Willoughby: I think it depends in part on what your long term goals are. There are definitely advantages to writing a thesis. So if you anticipate, for example, going on to a PhD or to working in a research institute or an organization in which you anticipate being required to write a number of reports and detailed research, then by all means, I think the thesis is advisable. In fact, if you want to go to a PhD, you really have to have some sort of thesis for your application. If the type of work that you anticipate doing does not require as much of that, but perhaps instead requires more depth of knowledge or a broader sense of knowledge, then taking additional classes is also advisable.

If you choose to take more classes, the requirement is only three extra credits. But in my opinion, I would not waste the fourth semester by only taking one class. Because you are paying tuition, you might as well take advantage of the system and take a number of courses, at least three courses. If you use that time wisely and learn as much as possible, you would not regret it. Choosing to learn less is not a good way in graduate school.

Whomever your advisor is, you can talk with them personally and discuss more in detail where you hope to go, what you hope your next steps in your career are, or your area of study, then decide together what will be the best course of action for you. And I suggest that all of you reach out to either the major director or a professor that you have worked well with, and certainly your advisor, when you want to contemplate, which of those tracks to take.  

Prof. Howe: If you’re going to go onto a research intensive environment, whether that be PhD or research institutes or writing reports of substantial research content with citations and so on, then, then yes, you should do the dissertation. Other than that, probably not the best use of your time.

The Comprehensive Exam 

Chedza: For master’s students, when should we do the comprehensive exam?

Prof. Kisuk Cho: For master’s students, you’re not supposed to take the exam. Rather, you have to submit a petition that you want to be exempted from the exam. So, select the three of your major courses from the courses you have taken. And then if you got more than a B0 for those three classes, then you are exempted from the qualification exam. So, in advance, you have to take three major courses and get a good grade of at least B0. And for PhD students, I think we need a separate orientation session for PhD students. 

Prof. Lee: There is nothing much for the students to do. The GSIS office would notify you when you need to fill the Comprehensive Exam form.

The 21st Century Certificates

The final suggestion came from Souhaila. She advised other students to fulfill our course requirement for the 21st certificate as soon as possible because some courses are not open in some semesters. We should be careful about this if we plan to get a certification.

Prof. Willoughby suggested that we ask the professors who instruct the courses whether the courses will be offered in the semester we plan to enroll in. And this certificate is not automatically granted to students who completed the required courses. You need to fill out the form to apply for it. You can get an unlimited number of certificates, but usually students can achieve as many as 2-3 certificates during their time here.

Other suggestions:

  • Prof. Willoughby warned that many students could not graduate in time because they failed to submit the English test in time. “So, don’t wait until the last minute!” Even if you had submitted the certificate when you applied for the admission, you still need to submit it again before taking the comprehensive examination.
  • Prof. Howe also reminded us to take the required courses as soon as possible. They are the foundations for other classes in your majors, and they might not be offered in every semester. It is expected that from now on, all required courses will be available in every Spring semester.
  • Prof. Cho recommended that we should find internship opportunities outside the university, if possible, and reach out to your mentor for help on the issue. However, inside the university, you can also apply for an internship position in various institutions and offices.
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Published by Khing Amatyakul

Thai, Working at SuperPlanet, IR grad from Ewha GSIS | @khingamat

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