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Korean students visit Burbank through Sister City program

When Chan Jin Park was a boy, he was never particularly interested in sports, but on his recent visit to the United States, he visited Dodger Stadium and he was hooked.

Park, whose English name is Michael, was part of a group of 10 students and two chaperones from Incheon City, South Korea, who visited Burbank earlier this month, culminating with a farewell dinner and performance in Glendale last Thursday.

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“Before I saw the game, I had no interest about baseball, but now I’m changed,” Park said, adding that he did go to a baseball game in Korea when he was in the fourth or fifth grade.

“There are a lot activities during the [Dodgers] game, and the fireworks were really impressive, still impressive, to me,” he added. “You never see those amazing, marvelous fireworks in Korea.”

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Through the city’s Sister City program, Park and other students stayed in host homes and enjoyed seeing a variety of locations throughout Los Angeles during their stay.

Park and his group also visited places such as Griffith Observatory, Disneyland and Universal City.

“Universal City was the best. I rode so many rides there,” Park said.

The 18-year-old will attend college soon and plans to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.

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Yoonji Jang said her favorite part of the visit was staying with her host families in Burbank.

“American culture was something new to me,” she said. “Their food or just the way they talk or just every little thing in daily life was interesting.”

Jang, 18, plans to attend college and study international relations.

“I would really like to come back [to the U.S.] as an exchange student,” she said.

For Dong-young Choi, his favorite excursions were to the local fire and police departments.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be a firefighter,” Choi said.

Visiting the local departments inspired him. “I could feel their power, their strength,” he said.

But he also enjoyed continuing to do some activities he does regularly back in South Korea — working out in a gym and playing soccer.

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It was the 24-year-old college student’s second visit to to the United States, and he said he was much more comfortable this time around, especially in expressing his opinions.

As a chaperone for the delegation of young visitors, it was Minjong Yu’s second time to lead a local Sister City group in Burbank.

Yu, whose English name is Belle, said she was impressed this time around at the number of educational facilities and programs that were included, such as a visit to the California Science Center.

Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy attended the farewell event and said the son of a host family described the Sister City exchange program best.

“It gets me out of my bubble,” she said, quoting the young man.

“I think that is very reflective of the kind of cultural and world exposure that our kids from Burbank get by their families hosting the students.”

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