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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Korean student loves studying in America

Thursday, March 10, 2005

replacement: Eutteum I "Beo" (right) reviews the files of the Korean exchange student who will stay with Tom (left) and Hazel Jones in Horseshoe Bend later this year.
Family to host another student

A phone call at 1:30 a.m. is rarely a good thing.

As the phone rang in the middle of night at Tom and Hazel Jones' Horseshoe Bend home, dread filled them both as Hazel picked up the receiver.

On the other end it wasn't the police or family member informing the Joneses of an emergency. It was an overjoyed Korean family who had learned the Joneses were going to serve as exchange student hosts for their son.

"My family was very pleased that I was going to be able to study in the United States," said Eutteum I "Beo," a foreign exchange student from Korea. "I love it here."

Beo, 16, arrived from Korea last August and has been staying with the Jones family ever since.

"Hosting an exchange student has been a blessing," Hazel Jones said. "It has just been an awesome experience."

Beo said there is a stark contrast between his native country and the United States.

"In Korea people are not very friendly," Beo said. "It surprised me when I came here and everyone was so friendly."

Another area in which the two cultures differ is education. Beo said academics in Korea are taken more seriously than in the United States.

Korean students begin school at 6:30 a.m. and finish at 8 p.m. Not only are the days long but students are required to study Monday through Saturday and half a day on Sunday.

He said Korean students are academically competitive in the same way American students are competitive in sports.

To put the difference in academics in perspective, Beo said he began studying English and Chinese in the third grade and took American high school level geometry in the seventh grade.

"Sometimes when I'm in class here, it can be boring," Beo said. "I studied much of this stuff years ago."

Beo said he doesn't miss his parents as much because he rarely saw them. In Korea students live in dormitories away from their families throughout their high school careers.

Despite his academic prowess, Beo had a few mishaps en route to Arkansas.

"I stepped off the plane (in Chicago) and decided I wanted some coffee," Beo said. "The only problem was I didn't know the difference between a $20 bill and a $50 bill."

Beo said spoken English is laced with idioms that often confuse him. But his friends Adam and Laura Yancey and Renea Hall have helped him decipher these non-literal English phrases, he said.

Besides an easier school schedule, Beo said he enjoys other parts of American culture. He said he likes American movies, fast food and freedom.

"I think I would like to go to college here and become an American citizen someday," Beo said.

It is unlikely Beo will go to college in the United States or become an American citizen, however.

In Korea children are subject to their parents' control for all of their lives. Beo's father has already told him he wants his son to return to Korea in June.

"In Korea they (parents) have a really strong influence on the choices we make," Beo said. "We have much respect for our parents."

Beo's situation is compounded by the fact that he is the oldest child in his family and will someday replace his father at the head of the family.

He said his father wants him to become a diplomat.

If Beo does get the chance to return to the United States, he said he would like to go to college and become a pastor or study theology.

The Joneses said if Beo does return he is welcome in their home.

"He is a very respectful young man," Hazel Jones said.

Tom Jones said they learned about the area student exchange program on the radio. Beo is apart of the Pacific Intercultural Exchange Program, a non-profit international exchange program endorsed by the U.S. State Department.

Hazel Jones said she was so pleased with her experience as an exchange parent, she is now a PIE representative in this area.

"I help to place students with area families," Hazel Jones said.

Prospective host families must meet several criteria which include having a clean living environment, a bed for the student to sleep on and an in-home interview.

"The most important requirement for a host family is that they love their student as they would love their own child," Hazel Jones said.

The Joneses, who are retired, plan to host another Korean foreign exchange student later in the year.

Tom and Hazel said they will miss their first foreign exchange student when he leaves early this summer.

"We laugh quite a bit with him," Tom Jones said with a big grin. "And he laughs quite a bit at us."

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