- Ministry News
ROK-US MOU on Renewal of WEST Program and Working Holiday Program and Expansion of Other Reciprocal Exchange Opportunities Signed
1. On October 22, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Korea Harry Harris signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Department of State on Renewal of the WEST (Work, English Study, Travel) Program and the Working Holiday Program (WHP) and Expansion of Other Reciprocal Exchange Opportunities, which calls for five-year extensions of the ROK-US WEST Program and WHP.
° The MOU will allow Korean college students to stay in the US for up to 18 months for the WEST Program -- 2-5 months for English language studies, 12 months for internships and 1 month for travels.
° Under the MOU, American college students will be able to travel and work in the ROK for up to 18 months for the Working Holiday Program. The MOU also calls for implementing the Gilman International Scholarship Program and other such programs conducted by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.
2. These Programs have been run through cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education: The former, by signing MOUs calling for extensions of the Programs, has drawn up the framework for their implementation; and the latter has had its affiliate, the National Institute for International Education, recruit participants and render assistance to them, thereby practically implementing and running the Programs. Over the past 10 years, some 3,500 college students took part in these Programs.
° In particular, efforts are being made to offer equal participation opportunities to students from low-income families and colleges in provincial areas as well as those majoring in natural sciences, engineering and various other areas. Furthermore, different amounts of living allowances will be provided to different income groups in an effort to provide vulnerable classes more opportunities to build experiences abroad.
3. The US side expressed hope that under the MOU, which calls for broader cooperation through the Gilman International Scholarship Program and other similar programs, a larger number of young Americans would visit the ROK for the WEST and the WHP, and play bridging roles between the two countries.
4. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, calling the Programs, which more than 3,000 Korean students participated in over the past 10 years, a symbol of the long-standing friendship between the ROK and the US, stated that the ROK government would continuously and increasingly help young Koreans build their futures through new experiences and challenges.
5. US Ambassador Harry Harris noted that amid the growing closeness among countries in the international community, the WEST Program offers its participants opportunities to gain insights on American culture vocation- and relationship-wise and to improve their English language skills. He added that WEST participants, by studying, working and traveling across the US, would become the ROK’s civilian ambassadors and build lasting friendships and mutual trust with Americans.
6. Going forward, the ROK government will continue doing its utmost to move smoothly forward programs designed to boost exchanges with the US and will seek to conduct such programs in a substantial way in an effort to help Korean college students gain diverse experiences overseas and thereby grow into talent with global capacity.
* unofficial translation