Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AoH Welcomes Korean Delegation

This October we were delighted to welcome 35 delegates from the South Korean National Institute of Lifelong Education (NILE) as part of their tour of  adult education in the United States.

The Academy of Hope community has always believed that learners of any age can better themselves and their communities through access to education.  What we didn't know is that the government of South Korea has made this belief into law.  South Korea's Lifelong Education Law , which states that all people have a right to learn throughout their lifetime, lead to the founding of the NILE in 2008.  

The NILE delegation, which was made up of educators and government officials, set out for the United States in search of unique perspectives on adult education.  We were eager for the opportunity to share our 25 years of work in DC and what followed was a true cultural exchange... 

The day began with an overview and Q&A about AoH and our programs.  The delegates were especially interested in the External Diploma Program, which allows students with work and life experience to pursue a high school diploma by completing 65 competencies.  

An AoH graduate and a current student spoke about conditions that helped them to succeed.  Both highlighted the fact that the Academy of Hope close by and felt welcoming, even when other things in there lives had caused them to take time off from school.  Executive director Lecester Johnson emphasized that community programs, like Academy of Hope, are able to be more flexible than other programs and are often seen as more welcoming by students.  

We inspired to learn of the NILE's work to promote lifelong learning.  Although the term "lifelong learning" exists in the United States, from what we were told, it is much more widely used in South Korea.  We are thankful for the chance to share ideas and look forward to a rich international relationship.