STARTALK Grant Awarded to Korean American Center in Partnership with CCKS

Department: Center for Critical Korean Studies

Post Date: March 7, 2018

News Details


Orange County nonprofit is awarded the county’s first STARTALK grant to build critical Korean language program for students

The Korean American Center, a nonprofit based in Irvine, has been awarded a grant by the National Security Agency (NSA)  and the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) to host a four-week STARTALK Korean language summer program for Orange County middle school students in grades 6-8. The program will be in partnership with UC Irvine’s Center for Critical Korean Studies (CCKS). This federal grant will cover tuition and materials for all the participating students. The program will take place in Irvine from July 9, 2018 through August 3, 2018.  

STARTALK is a federal initiative to expand foreign language education in under‐taught critical languages, such as Korean, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Urdu. Tammy Kim, Managing Director of the Korean American Center, stated, “The application and selection process was very rigorous. Last year, only eight Korean programs in the United States were awarded. This will be the first STARTALK award granted to any institution, for any language, in Orange County, so we are extremely honored to have been selected.” 

The program will be designed for students with low to mid proficiency levels who have had exposure to Korean at home through either their parents or grandparents. According to Kim, “The primary goal of the summer program will be to increase students’ motivation to learn Korean. Students will have the opportunity to explore their identities as Korean Americans, improve their understanding of Korean culture, and examine the connection between language, culture, and the arts.”

One of the highlights of the program will be a day-long field trip hosted by UCI’s Center for Critical Korean Studies (CCKS). Kyung Hyun Kim, Director of CCKS and Professor of East Asian Languages & Literatures at UCI explained, “CCKS was founded in response to a surging interest among students and faculty in contemporary Korean popular culture and to leverage UCI’s faculty strengths in Korean studies. We want to give STARTALK participating students the opportunity to think about Korean as an academic discipline and explore possible career opportunities.” He continued to say, “Through the STARTALK program, the relationship between the Korean American Center and CCKS will be greatly expanded. I believe this will serve as a launching pad for deeper collaborations to share Korean language and culture for the benefit of the greater Orange County community.”