Meghan Gardner in Korea 2019

This summer, I was once again honored to visit Seoul, South Korea as a lead trainer for the STEM Initiative, an educational alliance between ST Unitas (the parent company of The Princeton Review), professors from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Guardian Adventures.

The trip was filled with training, meetings, visiting local destinations, and a banquet of learning for all of us.  As well as meeting our team of 20 teachers and over 100 students, I had the opportunity to interview one of the top executives of ST Unitas who was present at the company’s start: Vision Director Kahee Kim. 

My interview with Ms. Kim was eye-opening to me on the cultural differences between Asia and the USA as it pertains to education, business, and even how certain words like “innovation” are defined.  If you are interested in knowing more, join me in the LinkedIn group about Informal Education & Learning.  I will be posting articles there about various interviews I conduct with individuals from around the world as we explore what Informal Learning and Education is and why it’s important.

Left to Right: Geon (ST), Uche (Harvard Professor), Cho (Vice President of ST Unitas), Meghan, Stephanie (ST), Jay (ST), and Matt (ST)

Each day, Dr. Uche Amaechi and I would be picked up and brought to Seoul National University.  Found in 1946, SNU is considered the most prestigious university in the country (with an international tuition of $5,500 a year – no, that’s not a typo).  We trained the teachers in the curriculum based on the story that all of the students are Mars colonists and trying to survive on Mars while also trying to expand beyond the solar system.

On the last day in Seoul, just as we were leaving for the airport, our hosts asked us to chat with the students who had just arrived for the start of the first session of camp.  Disregarding the fact that both Uche and I were in our informal travel clothes in preparation for a 14 hour plane trip, we agreed to meet with the kids and cheered them on as they stepped into the educational adventure we helped create.  During the meet & greet, we had the opportunity to talk up our Winter Camp where kids from Korea visit the US to attend classes at Harvard and then an immersive adventure at Guardian Adventures.

 

Outside of working with the generous and diligent students, teachers, and business executives at the STEM Initiative, I was also provided with exquisite culinary experiences, jaw-dropping walks through Seoul’s largest Buddhism temple, and endearing conversations with a number of people about their day-to-day lives and Korean culture.

Bongeunsa, Buddhist temple founded in 794, situated in downtown Seoul.

If you haven’t been to Seoul and have the opportunity, I highly recommend it.  It is a very modern city with gorgeous architecture that looks as if it were designed either 100 years into the future or 500 years into the past.  It’s immensely clean (the subway station especially) and safe.  Many of the residents speak English and are excited about sharing their beautiful city with foreigners.

I came home to discover that Guardian Adventures has been contracted by another international organization to develop educational programs for their clients.  We will share more about this project after the news goes public in November.  But we are very excited to see our company expanding into the global market and helping students of all ages all over the world learn through our educational adventures.  Stay tuned and let’s make this journey together.

 

 


About the Author: Meghan Gardner is the founder of Guard Up, Inc. which owns and operates Wizards & Warriors and Zombie Summer Camps, programs and events. These educational camps and events are STEM and story-based experience where instead of watching movies or playing video games about heroes, mythological creatures, mystery, and adventure, the campers get to live it. Kids and teens spend the summer playing a character of their own design and fighting monsters with foam swords or NERF Blasters, physics, biology, chemistry, and more. Gardner is also a STEM Curriculum Designer for ST Unitas (the parent company of The Princeton Review), a guest lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and other major universities, and an international speaker on the topic of Informal Education and Learning for all ages.