Q: Tell us about yourself including where you are from and which department you teach in.
A: My name is Judith Van Bruggen and I am from Canada. I am teaching here at the Department of Language Education.
Q: What made you come to Handong Global University?
A: Let me see. How can I start? My husband and I were teaching in China, we went to China with a mission group. After we had completed our requirement there, we wanted to stay in Asia. We recognized that there were many jobs here in Korea, so that’s what brought us to Korea. First of all, we were teaching in Daegu, and through our church, we found out about HGU. We were very interested in HGU, so we made an application and we were accepted. We are very pleased to be here. My husband and I are both teaching here in the English Department
Q: Tell us about your teaching experience at Handong Global University, including hardships or joys you’ve faced.
A: Actually, from where we were teaching in Daegu, we have very much enjoyed our experience here at HGU. Of course, some of the things that are very interesting to us here is the Christian perspective—being able to share Christ openly in the classroom and also to have more interaction with the students. Since we are living on campus as well, it takes us closer to the students so that we can have more involvement with them. In terms of hardships: other than the fact that our lives are very busy here because of the need to be involved in students’ lives which makes life more hectic, but at the same time, much more enjoyable in this teaching experience. We find that students here are very interested in English, they work hard, and there is a lot of respect and a lot of good relationships here at Handong.
Not in a formal way did I teach in Canada—my husband did, but I did not. There certainly are some differences between my teaching experience in China and Korea. I find that the Korean students are always respectful. One of the challenges for me as a teacher, when I am teaching English, is to get them [Korean students] to speak up and since they are more hesitant to do that, it is always a challenge to encourage the students to speak up and not be afraid of it.
I like the fact that there is a lot of emphasis on missions here. That is very dear to our hearts. I like the fact that there are many international students here as well. Again, that is very dear to my husband and my hearts. Interacting with international students and being able to speak so openly about Christ and, not that we could not, it just was not supported in other universities we’ve taught at, whereas here, it’s definitely supported and encouraged. Chapel times are very meaningful and we are enjoying it here.
Q: Tell us about your cultural experience in Korea.
A: Well, since this is our fourth year here in Korea, we have been able to adapt. We taught at Daegu for three years and we came to Handong last semester (Fall 2009). There are some wonderful things about Korea that we really love. It’s very easy to travel here and there are many English speakers here. So, to our shame, we have not learned the language as we should have, because we are always one person removed from someone who speaks English. It is too easy, in fact, at times.
Q: Do you have any future plans or vision for your life?
A: After HGU? No, at this point, we’re just asking the Lord for direction as to what He wants us to do. We’re open to many different things at this point. We have no clear direction right now.