By Rachael Rifkin
Hancock University, an English-as-Second-Language-oriented Long Beach school connected to South Korea’s Hanseo University, encourages its students to not only become immersed in the English language, but also to learn about the culture and local community in which they have chosen to study. One of the ways they do so is by reading the Signal Tribune.
Hancock University Vice President Sebastian Han first saw the publication at a restaurant. “It seemed like a very friendly newspaper, and I wanted my students to read the local paper,” Han said. “There are a lot of opportunities for students in this community, and it will help them practice their English. So now I make sure we always have some copies of the Signal Tribune around.”
Han knows firsthand what it’s like to relocate to the US from Korea. “I came here in 1985 to study at a university. I learned that it’s important to speak up and communicate,” he said. “Otherwise, how are you going to express yourself? I want students to read the newspaper, learn about the culture and interact with people in the community as much as possible. Asian culture is kind of shy. Unless someone asks them something, they never talk first. That’s why I’m trying to get Hancock University involved in a lot of community activities.”
On the students’ first day, they learn how to use the bus so they can get around and get to know the area. There are field trips to Hollywood, Santa Monica and, of course, downtown Long Beach. In addition, Hancock University is going to start renting a van so students can participate in First Friday events.
Hancock University has already hosted several large events as well. Last February they hosted Carnival del Corzon, a Haiti benefit and festival, and this month they hosted the Global Hybrid II Art Exhibit, a show featuring Cambodian, US and Korean artists. The university has also gotten involved with the Pedal Movement, a Long Beach collaborative that strives to facilitate the shift to a more empowered, educated, and safe community through cycling.
“We want to be even more involved in the community. We want local students to know about Hancock University,” said Han. “And we’d love to have volunteers come talk with our students and share their time.”
Hancock University was founded a little over a year ago as a result of Hanseo University’s partnership with the Long Beach Flight Academy. Looking to start their own aviation program, the university sent students to the flight academy to receive training. The idea of creating an extension university in Long Beach began after one of Hanseo’s directors donated money to purchase a building here as an investment.
“After that, we tried to determine the best way to utilize the space. So we thought, why don’t we send our students overseas to study?” Han said.
Located at 1600 Long Beach Blvd., Hancock University occupies two buildings (once a warehouse and auto body garage) and has about 120 students, ranging in age from 20 to 27. There are two dorms for students– one two blocks away from the school and one on Pine Avenue.
Areas of study include aviation, arts and design, business, and language arts. Right now the university has three-month, six-month and one-year programs available but would eventually like to offer one-year programs for all areas of study. After they finish their programs, students return to Korea to get jobs or become involved in internship programs here.