Sunday, February 5, 2012

How Language is connected to Power?

According to Kiesling, "Power isn't pre-existing, but established" (Kiesling, S.F., 1997, Power and the Language of Men). I agree with his statement in some sense. In democratic societies, we all believe that without distinction any kind of belongingness, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political, or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms. However, inequality and unfairness can be often found depending on the dynamics of power in many areas of real life situations. I would like to focus on the relationship between power and language usage to support Kiesling's statement.

Kiesling claimed that power is not something that pre-exists in a certain setting, but established and practiced by using language to influence other people. In other words, Kielsling has delved into the details of language-in-use, or discourse, looking at the kinds of words people use, their tone, the flavor of vocabulary, their pacing, and much more rather than make vague statement about power (Kiesling, 1997).  As a matter of fact, Kiesling's main concern is not power itself or its diverse types, but the relationship between language and power. Let me give an example about how power has influence on language usage, and how certain language styles are connected to roles.

On August 6,1997, Korean air flight 801 crashed on approach to Antonio B., Won Pat International Airport, Guam (Korean Air Flight 801). Of the 254 people on board, 223 people including 209 passengers and 14 crew members (3 flight crew and 11 cabin crew) were killed at the crash site. Many of passengers were vacationers and honeymooners flying to Guam. According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigation report, there were many causes of the tragic accident. However, the ineffective communicaiton among three flight crews at crisis was found as one of reasons by a communication expert (Malcolm Gladwell on Aviation Safety and Security)

It was resulted from the different usage of Korean language based on power, authority and seniority. For instance, a person in the lower position cannot directly criticize a person in the higher position and also has to follow the orders of one's superieors. Due to the ambiguous and indirect reply from a co-pilot, the caption could not make a right decision right away and differnt way of speaking in Korean language based on the position hindered the flow of communication at the emergency situation. Actually after that tragic accident, the Korean Airline prevented all the crews from speaking in Korean during flight in order to communicate freely regardless of the position. It is because the strong relationship between power and language usage can be much more found in Korean and English.

As far as the power of authority figures is concerned, "Milgram's experiment of Obedience" also demonstrates us the influence of hierarchical power. Having reduced power is associated with attentiveness to authority, constraint on freedom, and inhabitation of speech (Behavioral Study of Obedience). This clearly showed itself that low power individuals are aware of their lowly status and have a tough time standing up in the face of an authority figure. Therefore, this may cloud some people's thoughts and make the wrong decision even in spite of obvious misjudgement.

Furthermore, it tells how the influence of the authority figure can lead a person to make a misjudgment or engage in destructive behaviors even though he or she knows it is not right.
Actually, a high context culture such as the Korean society prefers to use high-context messages in which most of the meaning is either implied by the physical setting or presumed to be part of the individual’s internalized beliefs, values, and norms, very little is provided in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message. In contrast, a low context culture such as the American society prefers to use low-context messages, in which the majority of the information is vested in the explicit code. (Lustig & Koester, Intercultural Competence, 1999, p107)

This case shows us that how power shaped discourse (language usage) and is reshaped by discourse based on the cultural difference. This phenomenon can be more often found in such a high context society like Korea.

Later on, I would like to talk more about how the relationship between power and language habits can be affected by the cultural difference.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why is Internship so important?

Some students may wonder whether to take the internship project or one of the regular classes. Some majors require an internship-for-credit program for their completion of a course, but some majors provide it as an option. Thus, some students often ask me, "What are good points for having the internship experience?"

“An internship is referred to a training program in one’s related subject through which one wants to gain skills and experience in that field practically. This training program helps students greatly to fix the issues and get expertise in that profession. This is a fixed-period program that may be paid or unpaid and part-time or full-time. One can avail this opportunity local or overseas depending on the situations. Usually companies offer limited positions for internships” (cited in Why Internship is Important for Students?).

Actually, one of the international students told me that she planned to go back to her home country just after finishing her studies, so the internship project would not be necessary for her future. Besides, she even complained that it did not seem to be fair that she should work without being paid. Colleges usually require that for three academic credits, a student must work 18 -20 hours per week for 14 weeks.

I advised that she grab a chance of having an internship experience whatever it takes. Although she does not intend to work in America, this internship experience will be greatly used for looking for a job in her home country. Besides, it is not a good idea to give up the internship just because it may not be paid. I know some students are doing cheap labor or routine chores being paid with little money; however, this experience may not be useful for their resume as well as their job hunting. Don’t seek only instant self-gratification. Open your eyes and look further into the future!

Internship is a well-structured, valuable learning experience. In particular, the working experience as a student intern in a reputable organization will be really beneficial before jumping into the rough and tumble real-world because it cannot be duplicated in the classroom. Internship will give students a chance to sharpen their professional skills and explore their career possibilities. In addition, they can utilize what they have learned from the school into the real business setting.

In particular, I want to emphasize that the internship experience be more necessary for international students. They can take advantage of this chance to know American business world and polish their ability in the specific field. Although internship does not guarantee a student a job, it will provide them a strong networking related to their major field. Additionally, when they go to a job interview, the references from the internship will be useful to impress the interviewers.

Therefore, the question whether to take a regular class or take an internship course is pointless. Instead, it is time for you to consider how to be successful in your internship. You need to work on what the goal of the internship project is and design the method to fulfill all the requirements for it. Through an internship you will also develop a strong networking between related people with excellent communication skills.

Go find a good organization for your internship project and register it for the next semester!

Friday, December 2, 2011

How to enhance your vocabulary: Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition

Lin states that “for most language learners, the vocabulary learning process is a painful experience with poor results; they put a lot of effort on it because they know that vocabulary plays an essential role in language comprehension” (2010).

I have been asked many times by international students how to enhance English vocabulary effectively for their better writing. In my previous posting, Western Style Writing vs. Eastern Style Writing, I talked about different writing styles based on cultural differences. Both the American writing style and English grammar are things that you can take as yours when you grasp the knowledge of them. Besides, you can use them on your own when needed as long as you keep those concepts. Thus, I advise that you spend some time in order to master English structure and English writing pattern.

Although you grasp enough grammatical rules, you will soon realize that you compose papers with the same vocabulary in the same structure over and over again. I think learning a second language means learning its vocabulary; It is not easy for international students to keep working in order to improve their vocabulary power after they gain a certain amount of words needed for their basic college life. “Vocabulary acquisition is considered by many to be the single most important aspect of foreign language learning" (Gass, S. 1999).

Reading is a great way to expand your vocabulary and ability to express you. Do not only read textbooks regarding your major. In addition, reading shows you the examples of good writing styles and usage of vocabulary.
“Vocabulary could be better acquired incidentally and effectively through various reading experiences. The effective way of increasing vocabulary is based on the linguistic context of words in sentence structures because words are rarely used in isolation in most cases” (Lin, 2010).

I would like to recommend that you read as much as possible for the purpose of pleasure or information rather than learning a particular language. In my personal observation on the process of how international people improved their writing skills, it was based on their vocabulary power through extensive reading.

“It is widely agreed that much second language vocabulary learning occurs incidentally while the learner is engaged in extensive reading” (Laufer, B. & Hulstijn, J. 2001). Except for the first few thousand most common words, vocabulary learning predominantly occurs through extensive reading, with the learner guessing at the meaning of unknown words because vocabulary is no longer a primary classroom focus, something to be taught and tested but rather, and something to be acquired incidentally by the student while reading.

I always encourage my daughter, Holly, a junior in high school to read as many good books as she can and say, “Focus on understanding the passage as a whole. Do not stop reading to look for the meaning of unknown words in the dictionary whenever you encounter them! Later on, you can look up the dictionary in order to confirm your guess of the meaning of the target words.”

The learning for the new words comes as a natural result of the process of reading. Thus, a conscious effort to memorize words without context is unnecessary. One day, I found that her writing was greatly advanced with academic vocabulary through a lot of reading of her own pleasure.

“Acquisition of new words in a second language depends on how many times learners encounter them in the language put and how well they process these words" (Laufer & Rozovski-Roitblat, 2011). This means, the more attention is paid to the unknown words in the meaningful context, the higher are the chances of retaining the new information. “A Dictionary use and a self-imposed task result in better vocabulary learning than reading only in their study” (Laufer, B. & Hulstijn, J., 2001).

Therefore, the follow-up action, such as looking for the meaning of new vocabulary through extensive reading is recommended, although you can guess of the meaning by context. When you combine multiple encounters with new words while reading and dictionary usage for the analysis and practice of the words, you will be able to retain the words effectively and use them appropriately in your own writing.

Regarding incidental vocabulary acquisition in a Second language, I did an introspective study and made a presentation at 2nd Asia TEFL Conference in Seoul, Korea, 2004. The following is an excerpt of the article that I wrote.

I hope it will be helpful for you to understand why extensive reading is important and incidental vocabulary acquisition with dictionary use is effective for enhancing your vocabulary.

The Introspective Study

A qualitative research method was used for this study, specifically using a questionnaire, and introspective study with 3 international students of English in a university.
The main research questions were: 1) What strategies do learners use and what knowledge sources and contextual cues do they appeal to when attempting to understand the unknown words they encounter while reading? 2) Are there some differences of inferencing strategies based on their L1 formal education background, personality, and L2 language proficiency?


Participants for the study were 3 high-advanced level students in a university ESL class.  One is Jay, 31year-old Korean male, and got TOEFL paper-based score 600. The other subject, Yoshi is a Japanese female, 20 years old, who got TOEFL paper-based score 590. The last one, Van is a Vietnamese female, 20 years old, and her TOEFL paper-based score is 530.
The Korean guy who graduated medical school (graduate level), however the Japanese girl and the Vietnamese girl graduated only high school in their country. With my long experience with them for almost one and a half year, Van is more likely outgoing, extrovert, lower-fear of risk-taking, and higher ambiguity tolerance. However, Yoshi and Jay are more likely reserved, introvert, higher-fear of risk-taking, and lower ambiguity tolerance.

Stage One- Questionnaire

Ten questionnaires (Appendix A) for the general information of subjects were distributed to 3 students. There is a big gap among subjects in age, and in the highest educational level completed in their first language.
The students were asked to briefly answer their beliefs about the relationship of reading and vocabulary acquisition, reading styles, dictionary using styles, and guessing strategies. Many of the questionnaires were completed in great detail and were very helpful for their general idea about reading and vocabulary acquisition.

Stage Two- Tasks

The subjects were given a 600word text and a list of 20 target words on a separate sheet (Appendix B). Next to each word, there was a line number, which showed where the word appeared in the text. They were asked to read the text carefully, find unknown vocabularies, and to write an L1 translation of the word, and its explanation in English. Since the text remained available for consultation, learners could see the word in text context. Upon completions of the task, the translation sheets were collected.

Stage Three- Think-Aloud

The subjects were asked questions pertaining to the difficulty and interest levels of both the text and exercise. They were also asked which target word they remembered working with, what they had done with each target word, and how different guessing was from using dictionary. Finally, they were asked if they thought they had learned any of the words or learned more about words they already knew and if so, how.


For each student, I obtained two data sheets (survey, tasks) and one think-aloud protocols. Data analysis involved independently to exact and formulate the following information: a) identification of the words learners reported as unknown while reading the text; b) identification of the lexical processing strategies; c) development of a descriptive system for classifying the types of knowledge and information learners used when they attempted to infer word meanings, and classification of each case.


From the survey questionnaire, there are several differences based on their learning styles and preference even though the learners believe the strong relationship of reading and vocabulary acquisition.

For example, Van has higher tolerance of ambiguity, however, Yoshi and Jay has lower tolerance of ambiguity. Van and Jay use usually monolingual dictionary, however, Yoshi use bilingual dictionary. Jay likes reading books his own interest, however, Yoshi and Van basically read English books on instructor’s recommendation. There are similar steps from their answers in dealing with unknown vocabulary. At first, they try to read the unknown words several times. And then underline the words that they don’t understand and try to guess the meaning from the context. In the end, they want to confirm if their inferencing is right by using dictionary.

I now continue with a detailed look at three students and how they dealt with unknown vocabulary through reading.. While they were doing tasks, the students who have stronger verbal ability made use of a context wider than a paragraph, and the student who has weaker verbal ability student made use only of the immediate sentence, latching desperately onto the words her knew. It shows that the stronger the student, the wider the range of strategies used.

For example, Jay and Yoshi tended to keep the meaning of the passage in mind, read in broad phrases, skip inessential words, and guess from context the meaning of unknown words. By contrast, Van tended to lose the meaning of sentences as soon as she decoded them, read word by word or in short phrases, and couldn’t differentiated between crucial terms and unnecessary words. Among them, Jay who has the highest formal educational background also more tended to identify the grammatical category of words, and use his knowledge of the world.

Ironically, the weakest student, Van seemed to be more satisfied with vagueness. Although she found only 3 unknown vocabularies in the text, she had such a hard time to figure out the meaning of 20 target words that I gave and was not able to explain those words in English successfully. She exhibited severe mismatch between self-perceived and real lexical understanding.
However, she could understand the main idea of whole reading text even though she didn’t try to figure out each unknown vocabularies.

Her overestimation of her own verbal ability seemed to be due to a lack of the engagement noted as necessary, a lack of desire to grapple with the meaning of the text, and her personal characteristics.
Therefore, this result demonstrates that learners might not assess their lexical understanding very accurately. However, it can also predict they exhibit better self-evaluation when learners improve their lexical knowledge. For example, Jay and Yoshi comparatively didn’t have any difference in the number of unknown vocabularies in self-assessment and the number of unknown vocabularies in target word-lists.

After translation and explaining of target words in English, Jay and Yoshi succeeded in figuring out the meaning of unknown vocabulary and finally reducing the number of them from 3 to 1 words. Van, also, reduced the number of unknown words in target word lists from 16 to 12. It shows that reading under a certain explicit task would be more effective to acquire new vocabulary than reading only.

In other words, it proves that higher involvement in a word induced by the task will result in better retention when meanings of words had to be inferred they were retained better than words with given meanings. However, higher language proficiency level students are better at guessing words from context than lower-level proficiency students. Van confessed it was so difficult to infer the unknown vocabulary from context and even asked me to teach how to do.

The students were all, including the weakest, very familiar with the topic of article that was general common sense of maleness and femaleness. However, if the article were scientific issue, Jay who indicated a strong background in medicine, this knowledge would allow him to move through inferring unknown words quickly, confidently, and successfully.

Moreover, between Yoshi and Jay, there was difference of using world knowledge for guessing unknown words because of formal educational background and age gap even though they have similar verbal ability. For example, Jay who has more experience of world could apply his own knowledge to infer unknown words beyond sentence. However, Yoshi tended to more likely rely on sentence-grammatical rules to figure out the meaning of target words.

The weaker the student is, the more likely he or she is to go on the “look” of the word, and let this decide what the meaning of the unknown word is, even when such a meaning flies against the sense of the context.
For example, Van used a smaller context and had no command of grammatical and syntactic strategies. She use appropriately as well as lack inferencing strategies compare to Yoshi and Jay. On the other hand, the stronger students made use of context, world knowledge, syntax, grammar, punctuation and the roots of words in inferring meanings.

However, they found several mistakes in their guessing the unknown words from context after looking up those words in the dictionary. Even though all they agreed that word meaning is best taught through the presentation of a word in context rather than though definition–based instruction, they pointed out every context was not an appropriate or effective instructional means for vocabulary development.

Therefore, it would be precarious to believe that naturally occurring contexts are sufficient, or even generally helpful, in providing clues to promote initial acquisition of a word’s meaning. Besides, they suggested if there were glossing of specific words in the end of the text, it would be generally effective because it enable them to involve in those words interactively.


Incidental acquisition is the primary means by which second language learners develop their vocabulary beyond the first few thousand most-common words. Explicit teaching can be a very good first introduction to a word; after this, the context encountered when reading can lead to new knowledge of its collocations, additional meanings, and other higher-level knowledge. In addition, repeated exposure from reading will help to consolidate the meanings first learned. So a well-considered vocabulary-learning program will eventually include both methods, such as intentional learning and incidental learning with each lending its own strengths.

The findings of this study add to our understanding of incidental vocabulary learning through reading and have a number of implications for vocabulary instruction. They demonstrate both the potential and limitations of the usefulness of reading programs as a vehicle for vocabulary expansion. Regarding students of different ability levels, that presents the most interesting pedagogical implications. Low verbal ability subjects are at a disadvantage when they are simply told to guess from context. They are more dependent than high verbal ability subjects on vocabulary knowledge, as seen in correlation between number of words guessing from context and vocabulary scores based on consulting with dictionary.

Therefore, the common practice of encouraging all students to guess word meaning from context must be re-examined. Unless low verbal ability students are somehow able to improve their ability to derive meaning from context, dictionary use should be encouraged. On the other hand, it appears that many high verbal ability students refer to the dictionary when they have already correctly guessed the meaning, a finding confirming that vocabulary. Teachers should be aware of these tendencies and be prepared to offer different strategy assistance to different types of learners.


Al-Homoud, F., & Schmitt, N. (2009). Extensive reading in a challenging environment: a comparison of extensive and intensive reading approaches in Saudi Arabia. Language Teaching Research, 13(4), 383-401. doi:10.1177/1362168809341508

Arden-Close, C. (1993). NNS readers’ strategies for inferring the meaning of unknown words. Reading in a Foreign Language, 9, 867-893.

Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G., & McCaslin, E. S. (1983). Vocabulary development: All contexts are not created equal. Elementary School Journal, 83, 177-181.

Grass, S. (1990). Discussion: Incidental vocabulary learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 319-333.

Huckin, T., & Coady, J. (1999). Incidental vocabulary acquisition in a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 181-193.

Knight, S. (1994). Dictionary use while reading: The effects on comprehension and vocabulary acquisition for students of different verbal abilities. Modern Language Journal, 78, 285-299.

Laufer, b. & Hulstijn, J. (2001). Incidental vocabulary acquisition in a second Language: The construct of task-induced involvement. Applied Linguisitics 22(1). 1-26.

Laufer, b. & Yano, Y. (2001). Understanding unfamiliar words in a text: Do L2 learners understand how much they don’t understand? Reading in a Foreign Languages, 13, 549-566.

Lin, L. (2010). A video-based CALL program for proficient and less-proficient L2 learners' comprehension ability, incidental vocabulary acquisition. Educational Media International, 47(3), 199-216. doi:10.1080/09523987.2010.518812



Friday, November 25, 2011

Yoga for my life

Many years ago, I was asked by one of my yoga teachers, “Have you cried while doing yoga?”At that time, I didn’t really take this question personal, although I really enjoyed moving my body into various positions and relaxing my mind through abdominal respiration.

A few days ago, I fully realized what that meant. I went to the yoga school early in the morning. Since my body felt stiff and cramped up due to sitting at a computer for a while, I impulsively searched for a yoga place in the neighborhood out of frustration and joined the class without much expectation.

It was my first yoga class since I came to New Jersey. Actually, I wanted to try different things, which I had never done before, so I have enjoyed trying many different classes such as zumba, body sculpt, belly dancing, and kickboxing in the gym. However, none of them gave me a genuine relaxation and emotional enforcement.

While only focusing on my body and mind in doing yoga, I felt totally free from all the distractions. I almost cried because I was suddenly reminded of the question, “Have you cried while doing yoga?” 

Through the experience of yoga for almost 5 years, I have realized that healthy mind, happy mind and holy mind can be established while taking a deep breath and stretching my body. Besides, while doing yoga, I do not have to compete with others because I am different from others and I know well that each of us is special. Thus, I do not have to set my goals by what other people believe are important in yoga. Only I know what is best for me. My style of yoga adapts to an individual’s needs- no matter who I am because it is yoga for everybody.

So I can be confident enjoying yoga even though I am not good at every motions. Also, I am relieved that I do not have to be very flexible or strong to enjoy yoga. You do not have to “put yourself in “pretzel” poses to enjoy increased energy, vitality, strength and flexibility” (“Yoga for your life”, Margaret D. Pierce & Martin G. Pierce).

Actually I was surprised that the approach of yoga was the opposite from the other exercises.  These phrases, such as “Push a little harder!”, “Come on, just one more!”, and “You can do it!” are familiar to most sports. As far as I know, they force us to reach our limitation. But, it is different in Yoga. These phrases, such as “Pain rarely brings gain.” and “Avoid competing with others!” are the concept of yoga.

What is more, I get side effects during yoga like being able to look at my true nature. I could ask more fundamental questions of myself while doing yoga such as, “Who am I?”, “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?”  Meditation already begins when I decide to take a break from my daily activities and turn my attention inward. I bet yoga is the best way of relaxing my body, my mind, and my spirit.

I know all of you must be so busy with your studies since the final is just around the corner. However, I want you to make some time for relaxing. Yoga can be highly recommended for getting rid of all the confusions and distractions. Eventually, you can concentrate on your studies more. Why don’t you sign up for a yoga class?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My name, Sooseon

According to Lakoff and Johnson “Metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action.”(1980,”Metaphors We Live By”). Therefore, our ordinary conceptual system is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. Personally, I havent taken metaphoric expressions seriously in my life. However, I realize that a metaphor could impact a person’s thought and behavior through my personal experience.

For almost 8 months, I was actively engaged in Facebook. Eventually, I was invited to some exclusive clubs on Facebook. Among those clubs, I was more attached to the club, “The Village of Poets” which was composed of the members mostly from the same college that I attended in Korea. My nickname in the club was “Flower” Actually they call me “Flower” in a more polite way, using a poetic term because of the origin of my name. My name is Sooseon, which is a name of flower, Daffodil. Daffodil is literary translated into Sooseonwha in Korean. The word, “wha ()” means flower. I wrote a short essay about my name on the wall posting of the club. Actually, I got my name from my father who passed away 4 years ago, and a special memory of him related to my name has been enshrined in my heart.

Since I explained to them what my name, Sooseon meant in the essay, they began to call me, “Flower” in a beautiful way. Some of them even told me that my image looked just like Daffodil. To be honest, I was happy to hear that. Mostly, I focused on the appearance of the flower, Daffodil at first, but I came to realize that the image of the flower became internalized inside me and had an influence on my identity. I noticed that I have changed the way I think, talk, and behave in my daily life. The metaphor, “Sooseon is flower” has transformed me in the positive way although it was shared within a small group of members, approximately 60 people on Facebook.

For example, whenever something upsets me, I find that I hardly express my frustration in a negative way and even I am not angry as often as I used to be. I talk to myself, “I’m a flower!", "A flower doesn’t shout at people." or "A flower should not act like this way.”

 Some people may say, the metaphorical expressions: “You are what you eat!”,“You are what you think!”, “You are what you do!”, “You are what you wear!”, but I want to add by saying, “You are what you are called!” Among these mentioned above, the metaphor “You are what you are called really worked in my case. It proves that “all the aspects of our lives are fulfilled by metaphors and metaphorical concepts and our behavior is also framed in a metaphorical system.” (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980)

I hope I will live my life by the metaphor, “flower” and continuously spread the aroma of the flower, Daffodil, to others.

Here is a story about my name.

My Lovely Name, Sooseon

I got my name, “Sooseon” from my father. Actually, it is the name of a flower, “Daffodil”. That’s why my father picked the name for me. Most Korean names can be expressed in Chinese characters. So my name also has a meaning by using Chinese characters, which means “endless good”. Two other words have the same sound as my name, Sooseon. One word means “noisy”. The other one means “repair”. In my school days, some of my friends teased me by saying “You’re so noisy,” or, “You should be repaired like shoes, or bags, or something like that”. I still remember how embarrassed I was in math class just because of my name. We learned a new math term meaning a straight, vertical line; however, it sounded exactly like my name, “Sooseon”. All of a sudden, my classmates burst into laughter. My face just turned red.

I desperately wanted to baptize myself under a new name, something which seemed ordinary, so it functioned as nothing other than a name. Out of frustration, I widely complained to my father about not having the sense to give his child a good name. Whenever I begged him to change it, he always explained how beautiful my name was and ignored me. I sometimes cursed my name in secret and blamed my father’s indifference.

Since I have grown up, nobody around me has dared to make fun of my name. On the contrary, people have started to worship my name. For instance, “Wow, your name is so unique and easy to remember!”, “Who gave you that name? I think the person must have a good style.” Although I am not sure exactly when I began to be proud of my name and its many meanings, I can say I’ve refined and tempered myself due to the influence of my good name.

Because it also means “endless good”, I constantly make an effort to control my mind and be kind to others. This trait has made me peaceful and flexible. My name means “flower” as well and made me aware of how to keep in shape and not to excuse myself in terms of being attractive as a woman just because I am getting older. As I mentioned, it means being “noisy”, so I never make my life boring. I never neglect to try something new and don’t mind doing something risky to improve myself and to fulfill my personal destiny. Thanks to the meaning to “repair”, I sometimes take a quiet time to reflect on myself and examine my life to live at my full potential. And the meaning “straight vertical line” reminds me not to compromise with others just for the sake of convenience and not to be afraid of being against others if I don’t agree.

One more benefit of my name is that I could choose “Susan” as my American name without hesitation since it sounds very similar to my Korean name, “Sooseon”.

Now, I am relieved to think back that whenever I complained, my father persuaded me to think I have a special name instead of submitting a change-of-name form to the government. My father passed away four years ago. I regret that I didn’t have any chance to express how thankful I am to him for giving me such a wonderful name. My life will be the continuous process of proving my name’s worth, as it always has been.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Get. See. Do!

Sarit Lotem
Social Media Consultant, Web Designer, Gadget Lover…
When I first met Sarit at the mall in my neighborhood by chance, we hit it off. We talked about the movie, “Black Swan” and she told me about her blog, “Get. See. Do”. Her blog is automatically linked to Facebook, so I could read through Facebook, as well.

I’ve realized her blog is all about American culture that she has experienced since she moved to America from Israel 10 years ago. She talks about the places she visited, restaurants she loves, great movies she watched, and good book she read. I enjoy reading her blog, so I even visited the places and tasted some food she recommended. I am sure that the information from her blog would be also good for international students who want to taste local culture in their free time.  
Last Friday, Sarit and I sat down and talked about her blog and her interest.

1. Could you please introduce yourself? You can talk about your academic background and career.

I'm a mom for two children with a great husband. Luckily we all share our love for fantastic food and interesting places to visit. I'm also a web designer with a strong passion for art. I got my degree in an art college some 15 years ago in Israel. I build modern and friendly user websites with SEO, Facebook, Twitter and other social media integration for small business. So, I am a social media consultant, web designer, and gadget lover as I wrote in my profile. I came to America 10 years ago and since then, I can't stop exploring.

2. What made you start your blog? Is it also related to your current job?
Are you getting sponsored by the shops, restaurants, or any companies that you mention on your blog?

No sponsoring. I write only about things I truly love. I don't even tell those places that I wrote about them. What is the reason I started to write? It's very simple, I found myself repeating the same stories of great experiences we had with different people on a different occasions. It made me think that if I post and publish my experiences, it will get to more of my friends easily. I didn't think that people from Australia or China will read it. 

3. What do you recommend international students to do while staying in the United States besides studying, in terms of your perspective on your blog, ”Get, See, Do” ?

Get, see, and do as much as they can! It's the only way to get a new experience and enjoy the new surroundings. Try new food, go to a show, and talk to people on the street! Ask local people for recommendations, they know the best!

4. Could you give international students some advice for their academic achievement and career development?

As far as for the career development, it's a tough time with a tough market out there; for every position there are more than one jumper. Don't hesitate to start from point 0 and work hard, if you are good, you will be noticed and climb your way up.

Thank you so much for making time for the interview!
I hope your blog will be more known to international people, so they can enjoy the local culture by getting, seeing, and doing it while they are staying here in the States.

Here are her latest blog postings I want to share with you.
You can enjoy them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Go to the Job Fair! Get the picture of your career fiedl!~

Some international students might think that they are not attractive to prospective employers in the United States, so they plan to go back to their home country right after finishing their studies.

One day, I was surprised to hear from one international student that she was not going to a career fair on campus because no employer would be interested in hiring international students.

You may say, “We attended the job fair on campus last semester, but it was quite disappointing because not many companies in our career field participated and they did not seem to be interested in talking with international students” Some students may wonder what the point of attending the career fair is if most of the employers told them to apply online.

However, the reason why employers ask candidates to post their resume on line is because technology contributes to more effective and cost effective application process. Actually it does not hurt for you to post your resume through online even if you meet employers in person and show your resume on the spot.

Thus, I encourage all of you to participate in the job fair! By going to the job fair, you can get a perspective of what employers look for, what your major looks like in the current job market, and what are some trends in your career field. It does not matter whether you currently have a job or not.

Here is the blog that explains why career fairs are important for everyone.

However, I want to emphasize that attending a career fair is more important for international students who have not had any working experience in the United States. Although you cannot be offered a job, you may have a chance to work in the training program that companies usually offer through the career fair. The internship experience will work like one tool to make you stand among the candidates for your future job interview.

“Be positive! You should know that you are more competitive than the other candidates because you speak at least two languages and understand cultural differences through your personal experience let alone your knowledge of your major.

Keep in mind when you go to the job fair,

Be dressed professionally!

Bring at least 20 resumes!

Prepare for meeting prospective employers!

Who knows, you can be offered a good job on the spot or get a chance to do an interview in your dream job at the career fair.

Oh one more thing that I want to remind you is, "Consult your career development advisor to polish your resume and learn how to prepare for the interview! "