July 09, 2014 12:00AM
A dozen students from Gyeongsang National University in South Korea are at Pittsburg State this summer for a unique American internship experience.
The four-week American Industry Internship and Cooperative Experience is the first of its kind at Pitt State, and leaders say it’s aimed at giving Korean students a first-hand look at American industry and culture.
“The overall mission of this program is to give these students from Korea a chance to see, observe and learn how industry works in America,” said Norm Philipp, assistant professor in the School of Construction and faculty leader of the internship program.
As part of the program, which ends July 25, the students are serving as interns at Pittsburg companies Atkinson Industries and Pitsco Manufacturing. After their shifts, they attend workshops and class discussions at PSU's Kansas Technology Center.
The students are also working on projects with the City of Pittsburg and Keltoi Winery in nearby Oronogo, Mo.
“That experience at those two companies really gives them a sense of what it is like to work in the United States,” Philipp said. “And they’re not just there observing. They are getting their hands on things and getting the true internship experience.”
For the students, the program has been an eye-opening and somewhat tiring experience. Rin Kim, 23, said the students have been surprised by how much of the day is spent on their feet.
“We stand up a lot,” he said. “Our legs and feet get pretty tired.”
Overall, the students said they are enjoying the experience.
“We like seeing America and the culture,” Yuri Wi said, “and we like the food here.”
Later this month, the students will visit Kansas City and Wichita for tours of various companies and sights.
Over the July 4 weekend, they spent time at Pittsburg’s Lincoln Park.
“My wife and I took them down there with us so they could see that side of how we live,” Philipp said. “They got to swim at the pool, listen to the concerts at the park and watch the fireworks.
“We wanted to show them that American life is more than just what they probably see on television,” he said. “For all of them, this is their first trip to the U.S. We want them to know that there’s more here than just L.A. and New York.”
That’s not to say, however, that they won’t get a taste of big-city life. After leaving Pittsburg later this month, they’ll travel to Las Vegas and Los Angeles before returning to South Korea.