Korean delegation visits Lilburn school

LILBURN — In an effort to broaden horizons and learn about educational systems in other countries, a Lilburn private school is in the midst of a cultural exchange program with South Korea.

Killian Hill Christian School, which has nine international students, including four from South Korea, welcomed 20 Korean delegates on Wednesday who serve as school administrators in South Korea. The Korean delegation was welcomed with a ceremony in the church sanctuary, and then went on a tour of the school. They came from Gyeonggi-do, the most populous province in South Korea.

Last school year, about 10 Korean teachers spent about two months at the school, and Killian Hill expects two more in the next two weeks. They observe the Killian Hill teachers and teach Korean culture to Killian Hill students.

“We want our kids to have a real world picture, not just Gwinnett County,” Killian Hill headmaster Paul Williams said. “This helps us to really promote that idea that the world’s bigger than Gwinnett County, than Georgia, and they need to have an impact on the world.”

Williams said because it’s a church-sponsored school, missions and outreach are a big deal.

Williams said the school has had international students since 1994, and they currently have students from Bangledash, Vietnam, China and South Korea. The students come to Killian Hill in part because the school accepts I-20 forms, which is one step in a process to obtain an F1 Visa. The idea for the exchange program came about eight years ago when a Killian Hill parent knew a Korean parent who knew Ho Jin Yoon, an educational liasion with the Korean government.

One main difference is so-called private schools in Korea receive money from the government, and don’t typically receive tuition. Williams said Korean schools are structured like charter schools are here.

“So here, we’re learning how to manage the schools,” Yoon said. “How can you manage this private school without any funding from government. We came here because it’s a private school, and we want to find out what’s different from the Korean educational system and the Georgia educational system.”

In October, the school plans to host a king from one of the western provinces in Ghana where Killian Hill has supported a school.

Yoon said the Korean delegation will spend about a week in Georgia and also visited schools in Fulton County. While the cultural exchange program has been given the go-ahead by State School Superintendent John Barge, it must also receive clearance from the Gwinnett County Board of Education. But Yoon met with Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks this week, and Yoon expects that the program will be approved.

Earlier this year, Barge signed a Memoradum of Understanding with South Korea for the program, and Fulton and Gwinnett counties were chosen because of their diverse student populations.