North Central College - Naperville, IL

Exploring Korean culture

Sochantra “Soch” Mel capped off his studies at North Central College by joining the American delegation at the Korea-America Student Conference (KASC) in South Korea. “This experience gave me opportunities to interact on many levels with students who are different from me,” says Soch, who is of Cambodian descent. “American and Korean students were grouped together to research a specific topic. I was part of the human rights group and we focused on poverty in cities like Seoul and New York City.”

Soch was one of only 25 students from the United States selected for the cultural and academic exchange program. He learned about key issues, traveled and experienced Korean cuisine and Buddhist practices. Among his most vivid memories was visiting the border with North Korea.

Soch has been interested in the Asian region for some time. He majored in both East Asian studies with a focus on China and global studies focusing on East Asia, with a minor in Chinese. He also speaks Japanese and studied abroad in South Korea in 2009.

The purpose of KASC is to promote unity and understanding between the United States and South Korea. Soch considers this his mission, too. “In my future work, I want to promote Korean studies to schools like North Central and be a voice for U.S.-Korean relations.” Soch also hopes to pursue graduate studies in international diplomacy.