By Nora Shimada
A newly formed nonprofit organization, Davis Korean Cultural Society, is opening a Korean language and culture school with classes beginning Feb. 7 for pre-kindergartners through 12th-graders. One 15-week-long session will be offered — a Korean language class followed by a Korean culture class — on Friday evenings at the Davis Korean Church, 603 L St.
The cultural society is a separate and independent entity from the church. The classes will not include religious activities and are open to everyone. In the fall, classes will be expanded to include adults.
Davis has two other cultural and language schools: the Davis Chinese School and NewStar Chinese School.
“We are very grateful to our sister city, Sang Ju, in South Korea that has given us support to start programs to bring the city of Davis and Sang Ju closer together, and to the many people in Davis who have worked hard to build our organization,” said Jeannie Johng-Nishikawa, co-founder and president of the organization.
The two cities became sister cities in 2004. There are many similarities between the two, as Sang Ju is an agricultural town with a population of approximately 120,000, known for producing rice, silkworm cocoons and dried persimmons. Like Davis, it is a bicycle-friendly community and is home to a government university that has a focus on agricultural technology.
Former Davis Mayor Ruth Asmundson, Johng-Nishikawa and Davis Korean Cultural Society board member Sung Moon were instrumental in forming the sister-city relationship.
Davis Korean Church has offered Korean language classes, primarily serving the fluent Korean-speaking community. The non-religious classes offered by the Davis Korean Cultural Society will serve a broader population with a focus on hands-on cultural activities and language classes designed for non-fluent learners.
Johng-Nishikawa has worked over the past two years with Dr. Janet Donald, the society’s vice president and co-founder, to develop the organization. The pair offered their gratitude to the Rev. Joshua Lee from the Davis Korean Church for his assistance.
“The mission of Davis Korean Cultural Society is to provide education, appreciation and preservation of the Korean culture and language,” Donald said. “We formed this organization because we wanted a place for everyone (fluent or nonfluent, Korean or non-Korean) to feel welcomed at a Korean school and learn about Korea and its people and culture.
“We plan on adding classes in Korean arts and crafts; learning about traditions, Korean holidays, Korean martial arts; making Korean food, like kim bap; and introduction of Korean music, such as the Kayageum, clothing, etc. We would also like to have guest speakers, such as Korean War veterans, distinguished Korean speakers in various fields in music, art, and literature.”
The mission of Davis Korean Cultural Society is to provide Korean cultural and language education to people in Davis and surrounding areas. The group hopes to bring together people of differing backgrounds, including fluent and non-fluent Korean language speakers, individuals with multi-ethnic backgrounds, individuals who have lost the Korean language and culture over time, families with adopted Korean children, exchange students between Korea and Davis, Korean senior citizens and Korean immigrants.
“We hope to share Korean culture through lectures, and performances in music, arts, cooking and sports by experts in the field,” a spokesman said. “Korean language classes also will be offered at all levels, from beginning to advanced, to match the wide variety of people as represented by the community.
“There will be invitations of various Korean authors, artist, poets, veterans and experts who are eager to teach and share their knowledge with our community. A Korean library can be established where books are read together and friendships are made between exchange students from Davis and Korea.”
In the future, the group hopes to provide scholarships to students who helped make Korean cultural awareness possible.
The Davis Korean Cultural Society is looking for a Korean cultural director, Korean cultural education teachers and school volunteers. Classes and events will be based on the availability of teachers and volunteers and are subject to change or possible cancellation.
Anyone interested in any of the positions should contact Johng-Nishikawa at [email protected].
Pre-registration for the Korean language and culture classes continues through Dec. 31. Classes will begin Feb. 7. The language classes will meet from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Fridays and the Korean culture classes will follow from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays.
Registration fees are $80 for first child, $70 for second child and $40 for the third child.
Completed applications and registration fees may be mailed to: Davis Korean Cultural Society, P.O. Box 326, Davis, CA 95617-0326.
For more information and updates, visit the Facebook page of Davis Korean Cultural Society.