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On any Saturday morning, for the past 30 years, you might have noticed young children running around the Baldessin Precinct Building, giggling. They would be on their break time, playing some game with friends usually with a doughnut or other snack in their hands, waiting for their classes to resume. Shortly after a signal, however, you wouldn’t have noticed them at all. Since 1991, Mr and Mrs Chong have run Korean language classes—한글학교—for the community in our School. It is one of the longest-running Asian language community programs in the ACT, and it is easy to see why.
It is a very friendly and smoothly run operation. The classes run from 9am to 1pm, and they cover a range of different levels. Sometimes, adults join the classes, such as DFAT employees or the parents of adoptees, but the majority are children, below the age of 10, who are given free books and snacks as encouragement. The students benefit from the wonderful organisation and teaching excellence of the volunteers who have taught them over the years.
At the moment, the school has almost 100 students and approximately 11 teachers. Because CHL has been in the midst of a phased shift to the Coombs Building, the Korean Studies program has worked hard to ensure the Saturday-morning Korean language classes could move over to the new space, too. To Associate Professor Roald Maliangkay, until recently the Korean language convener, CHL wouldn’t be the same without the Saturday morning buzz and giggles.
Since 2006, Roald has helped timetable the classes and has worked with Mr and Mrs Chong and the teachers to run the biennial ACT Korean Speech Contest. Sometimes they had much help from colleagues, such as Associate Professor Duck-Young Lee and Ms Jeong-Yoon Ku.
CHL’s wonderful new Korean language program convener, Dr Eunseon Kim, is keen to ensure the contest’s next instalment will go ahead in the very near future. The School and the Korean studies program look forward to more engagement with the community; we hope they appreciate the new teaching spaces, and we look forward to welcoming many of their former and current students to CHL’s regular Korean program.