Indiana State University Newsroom

Korean students, Terre Haute community members use soccer to mentor children

January 30, 2015

A well-loved Korean pastime - soccer - is about to become a mentoring activity to help native Koreans in the Terre Haute community, including students at Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, share their culture and build friendships with children at Benjamin Franklin Elementary.

"Last year, Korean community members (in Terre Haute) got together and played soccer at Deming Park. It was good for us and helped us make good friends," said Yong Joon Park, associate professor of elementary, early and special education in the Bayh College of Education. "Many children would come by and watch us play soccer and asked to join, and some members mentioned using soccer to provide a good service for the community and hopefully provide them with a fun time and build friendships through soccer."

Around 10 children in grades K-5 from Ben Franklin were selected by their school to participate in the nearly two-hour, afterschool soccer activity on Jan. 29, which included warm-up activities, teamwork-building games and an explanation of the game rules, before the group played an indoor soccer game at the elementary school.

"(Soccer) is a game that teaches you how to work together as a team and provides physical activity and good cognitive development," Park said. "So soccer is not only fun, but it is good for the students for many reasons."

The ISU Mentor/Mentee Program is sponsored by the Center for the Community Engagement and Vigo County School Corp. to encourage education, acknowledge mentee accomplishments and promote the idea of going to college among students.

"To me, this is karma - do good and good things will happen," said Hee Soo Park, a graduate engineering student at Rose-Hulman. "I also like soccer and working with kids so the combination of them in this activity made me want to get involved."

The opportunity to volunteer was one that Min Su Shin, a senior economics major at Indiana State and a member of the university's Korean Student Association, also didn't want to pass up.

"Our association is all about communication and we do a lot of volunteering with Dr. Park, like going to Sycamore Manor," Shin said. "We know there are people who need help and this is a way for us to volunteer and do something for children in the community."

A Korean school supervisor by trade, Indiana State graduate student Young Ki Kim said, "It is a great experience in helping people. We have fun and can get the students thinking about their dreams for themselves."

The chance use the activity to share the Korean culture with others was made it a winning idea to Sang Do Park, president of the Terre Haute Community Korean Association.

"This is a great way for us to keep our Korean culture in America and be able to share it with Americans," he said.

Contact: Yong Joon Park, associate professor of elementary, early and special education in the Bayh College of Education,

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or