Jina Shin, a South Korean schools budget analyst in the U.S. for three weeks of study, stood in a schoolyard among a boisterous crowd of children, teachers and parents at dismissal. The end of the school day at St. Mark's School in Catonsville is fairly typical of most in terms of noise, enthusiasm and organization.
"It is strange to see so many parents here to pick up their children," she said. "In Korea, children, even the little ones, get home by themselves."
Although she has also found American students a bit more lively in the classroom than their Korean counterparts, she has noticed more similarities than differences in the schools systems, she said.
Shin, one of 18 public school administrators visiting from Gyeonggi Province in South Korea, is visiting several Baltimore County schools while studying this month at University of Maryland, Baltimore County's English Language Institute. The visitors, who are residing with host families, expect to hone their English skills, experience American culture and observe its schools. "Schools are closely tied to everyone's life," said Kazumi Hasegawa, international marketing director at the English Language Institute. "We help show how area schools operate from business management down to the lunch and after-school programs. Host families offer a look at American lifestyles."