VIENNA — Dahee Jeon, 15, and Chaewon Park, 16, giggled as they tried Dippin’ Dots for the first time and chatted with their host family, Amanda and Brad Sheridan of Anna.
The teens were part of a group of 26 students from Daedong Taxation High School in in Seoul, South Korea, visiting Vienna High School.
Dahee and Chaewon explained that the students had to take a test of English with about 450 questions to qualify for the trip. Only top-scoring students were selected.
“They cooked for us on Sunday night,” Amanda Sheridan said.
They cooked a traditional Korean meal that included kimchi (fermented vegetables) and ramen (noodles).
Dahee is the second student in her family to visit Vienna. Her sister, Huiju Jeon, was part of the group that visited last year.
After a meal provided by Fellowship Baptist Church, the Korean students gave a presentation on Korean life and culture to their host families, Vienna High School students and members of the church.
The presentation started with Mansik Ahn, English teacher at Daedong Taxation High School. He joked that he wanted to hide the fact that he was an English teacher.
“Last Tuesday we arrived in Vienna, and we have had a good time and made many friends here,” Ahn said. “I asked the students, ‘How about this place?’” Ahn said.
After his short comments, a video greeting from the students who visited Vienna last year was shown. Many of those students said they were homesick for their American host families. The videos were created by Dabeen, one of the students.
“I will go there after graduation and hope to go bowling with you,” Dabeen said to his American friends.
Then it was time for this year’s students to share their presentations.
The first group talked about education and culture. They talked about subjects they study and taking the SAT test. The Korean SAT is given on one day each year. On that day, planes are not allowed to fly because officials do not want the noise to distract students.
They also gave a presentation on Korean language, showing traditional characters and a quick guide to pronunciation.
The second group talked about Korean history and geography. Korea is on a peninsula between China and Japan and has about 3,000 islands. Seventy percent of the rest of the country is mountains and hills.
“Japan colonized Korea in 1910 and took everything from us,” one student said. “We were liberated from Japan when U.S. forces dropped bombs on Hiroshima in 1945.”
The third group talked about culture and food, including K-Pop music and drama, Taekwando and food. Many Americans have heard K-Pop (think Psy and his song “Gangnam Style” or BTS on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”).
Their presentation ended with an invitation. A student offered to treat any visitors in the crowd to a “delicious meal” at a Korean restaurant.
The fourth group talked about places to visit in Korea, like Seoul, the world’s 10th largest city; Je Ju Island, a World Heritage Site famous for haabong and black pork; North Seoul Tower; Lotte Tower, and lots of bridges in Seoul.
“When you visit we recommend you go to these places,” Dahee said.
The students left Thursday morning after an assembly at Vienna High School.
Michael Moon, who arranged the tour, said he is often asked why he chose Vienna.
“I can tell you. It’s the student and people here,” Moon said. “This is true American life.”