South Korea is one of the key Asian nations that Kenya has been keen to build robust relations with. Over the years, the Kenya-Korea relations have been growing. In the years between 2010 and 2012, a Korean Studies project was deliberated upon by the University of Nairobi, the Korean Foundation, the embassy of the Republic of Korea in Kenya which was to put the two countries relations on another level.
In 2013 September, Kenya became the 1st African country to have Korean studies at the University of Nairobi. Housed under the Literature and Linguistics department, it offers a number of subject disciplines including Korean language‘Hangeul’, tourism, literature, Korean economy and business and much more. Far from being immersed in class, the studies have exposed many students to a range of activities including exchange programs, participating in Korean cultural events, working with Korean organizations and hosting a number of functions that have helped them integrate their learning with extracurricular activities.
Three students, Lynne Kazi, Mohamed Abdullatif Abdulrahman and Stanley Njuguna , the beneficiaries of the 2014 and 2015 four month language exchange program at Soon Chung Hyang University in S. Korea, can now competently and effectively communicate in Korean language. Ms. Lynne Kazi has been a translator to key Korean diplomats and officials visiting the country on a number of occasions . Several others can communicate too.
Some students have had the opportunities to travel to S. Korea and even do internships in some of the Korean companies in Kenya such as Samsung C&T, Safari Park Hotel and Hansung Furniture.
University of Nairobi continues to experience an increase in enrollment, especially for its language program and cultural studies. The Korean Studies discipline is now in its 4th academic year ever since it inception, with the center’s fourth-year students expected to graduate in 2017. In June this year, the S. Korean President was in Kenya and she reinforced myriad partnerships and signed a number of MoUs within the construction, technology, education and energy industries. With the teaching of Korean language and culture at local universities, this will work to ease work on these projects by enhancing effective communication and mutual understanding. It will also bring more Korean tourists to Kenya and offer opportunities for Kenyans who would wish to study or do business in S. Korea.
This article was written by Luseka Socrates.