The Columns

More Honors for Uri Whang '13

— by on September 23rd, 2011

It’s been a memorable few months for Uri Whang, a Washington and Lee junior from Collierville, Tenn., near Memphis.

First, she won a $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace 2001. With that grant, Uri established a program called Benefitting All Children in Korea, or BACK. Her goal is to help North Korean refugees better integrate into South Korean society by focusing on educating North Korean children and adults. The project recruits bright American students studying or working in Seoul to mentor and tutor North Korean refugees.

Uri’s goal is to see her project grow into a non-profit comparable to Teach for America. As she has noted, learning English is critical for the refugees, since South Korea requires it to be taught in public schools, and a knowledge of English is essential to finding jobs in Seoul. Uri is interested in North Korean refugees, at least in part, because her grandparents escaped from North Korea and made their way to Seoul during the Korean War.

Uri began developing BACK while she was spending the Winter Term abroad on the Seoul Arts and Sciences Program sponsored by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). After finishing, she stayed in Seoul for the summer to get BACK going.

Uri’s work so impressed the resident staff of her study-abroad program that she was nominated for, and won, the CIEE Student Recognition Award. She’ll go to New Orleans in November to receive the award at the CIEE Conference.

You can read Uri’s own description of her experiences on A Day in the Life, which chronicles the work of Uri and other winners of Johnson Opportunity Grants.