Yeji Kwon


Why did you opt to serve as a Senior Fellow for Internationalization?

Through Notre Dame, I had two amazing opportunities to study abroad in Italy and Thailand. Not only these opportunities enriched my academic experience, but also transformed my perspective on potential career plans. As a Senior Fellow for Internationalization, I plan to share my personal experience with peer students to help promote a variety of study abroad programs that Notre Dame offers. In addition, I look forward to creating a more inclusive environment for international students. It would not have been possible to immerse myself in the new culture during my time abroad if the local friends and professors were not there. Looking back, the interpersonal connection was a critical element in connecting with new places. Notre Dame should also welcome international students with open arms and I hope to be a part of it. In addition, I realized that I could shape my own experience in a meaningful way by viewing my unique background, a recent immigrant from Korea and a transfer sophomore student, as an asset; coming outside of U.S., and experiencing a different college culture before coming to Notre Dame, I have a comparative perspective which allows me to see the unique values and opportunities only Notre Dame can offer.

Talk about your international experiences and why they are important. How have they served you (academically, personally, professionally, etc).

I grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and my parents moved to California after I graduated from high school. Before coming to California, I briefly studied abroad in France. Since Notre Dame, I was able to travel even more by participating in the summer study abroad program in Thailand and a year-long Rome Studies Program through the School of Architecture. Exploring the world is inherently tied to my academic pursuit in urban design and architecture, which is a manifestation of different ways of living and operations of societies in a physical form. Moreover, the connection that could be made with the locals and the observations that can be only done on site is more powerful than the knowledge that can be gained from books. For me, sketching the neighborhoods in Rome allowed me to memorize building details and experiencing the space directly have been far more impactful than trying to grasp an understanding of a space through looking at plans and elevations. In addition, by observing the social and economic aspects of the cities, I was able to enhance my understanding in real estate development and the ways the cities are planned differently around the world. Personally, being exposed to different cultures challenged me in numerous aspects. Traveling shaped my personal character to be a more well rounded person and to stay curious about the world.

Why do you think it's important to focus on internationalization at the University of Notre Dame?

In a world where globalization in the workforce is becoming more prominent and collaborative skills highly sought after in prestigious companies, internationalization should be prioritized in universities so that the students could gain real world experience and develop appreciation for different cultures. Also, through internationalization, Notre Dame would be able to provide an even better learning environment. Being able to study, live, and research on-site, wherever it may be in the world, is a huge privilege that students should be aware of and take advantage of. I am excited to be part of enhancing this mission with Notre Dame International. Also, through inviting scholars with different beliefs and cultures, Notre Dame could become a hub for discourse on global issues. It will also help us to reflect on our Irish Catholic identity and traditions, and move forward while maintaining our values.