April 18, 2003: Headlines: COS - Poland: Columbia University: Paul Kim stayed in Slovakia for seven years, three years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and four years as a university teacher.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Poland: Peace Corps Poland : The Peace Corps in Poland: April 18, 2003: Headlines: COS - Poland: Columbia University: Paul Kim stayed in Slovakia for seven years, three years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and four years as a university teacher.

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Paul Kim stayed in Slovakia for seven years, three years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and four years as a university teacher.

Paul Kim stayed in Slovakia for seven years, three years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and four years as a university teacher.

Student profile: Paul Kim

After he graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Economics, Paul Kim had a plan. He would go to Slovakia for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer, return to the States to as a Peace Corps fellow, and then begin a career as a classroom teacher. Instead he stayed in Slovakia for seven years, three years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and four years as a university teacher. Currently he is a Masters of Education (Ed.M.) student in the International Education department of Teachers College, with a focus on policy analysis.

He arrived in Slovakia right after the "Velvet Revolution" in 1994, when Slovakia separated from the Czech Republic. While in Europe, he had the experience of witnessing a new country emerge as a full-fledged democracy. After working as an English teacher, an educator trainer, and a university instructor, Paul felt he needed a graduate degree to continue in the field of education. In 2001, Paul returned to the United States to begin graduate school at Teachers College. He looked at other graduate schools but Teachers College was the right fit for his needs. When he visited New York City and the Teachers College campus, Paul felt that the faculty's interests matched his own. Paul ultimately decided to attend Teachers College because it has an excellent reputation in the field of international education. "The big selling point with Teachers College is…you have a lot of freedom to tailor your courses to fit your own personal or professional or academic goals and needs. As part of the Columbia University network you do have access to the other departments and other schools like SIPA [School of International Public Affairs]." Paul was also drawn to New York City, which is the center of the international development world. Frequently, Teachers College offers opportunities to students to go beyond the walls of a classroom and create life experiences. For example, while Paul was enrolled in a particular course, he was able to visit Central Europe and evaluate education programs.

Paul brings a special perspective to education. He uses his experiences of being a classroom teacher, policy-maker, and analyst to understand both sides of the educational equation. "I think it's a testament to the professors within the department that they do put a human side to the policy. The professors, because of their experience, don't just come at you with either a classroom side or just a pure theory and economics side. They are very human in that respect…They really are teaching you all sides."

Teachers College offers a genuine community because it is the students and faculty that create a unique culture. Paul says of Teachers College, "You do find a sense of community there…There's always that feeling within the school and the department that people are there to help you. It's a very caring atmosphere. Very rigorous academically, but very caring. They do consider you human. You do build those networks. You build networks just being in the classroom and interacting with people with different backgrounds but all within your field." The experience of living in New York is also an important part of the Teachers College experience for Paul. "Teachers College has the great benefit of being in one of the most vibrant cities in the world," he says.

Although he's unsure of what he'll do after graduation, Paul dreams of one day returning to Central Europe and working with educational development in the Roma, or Gypsy, population.

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Columbia University

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Poland



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