Liberty County School System has earned another first: one of their Bradwell Institute students are headed to South Korea to participate in a foreign exchange student program.
Mia Stevenson—a senior and color guard member— at Bradwell Institute, enrolled for the semester at Ewha Women’s University, a South Korean school. She will also attend Suseong High School.
Stevenson was previously enrolled as a junior at Bradwell, but completed all of her credits to become a senior last semester. She will be enrolled at the schools in Korea as a senior, and will come home after the trip and finish her senior year at Bradwell.
“I leave on Feb. 25, and I’m both nervous and excited,” Stevenson said. “I’m most nervous about the flight. It’s about 15 hours, and then I have to take an extra flight to Daegu.”
Stevenson will remain in Korea for five months, and live with a host family—a mother, father, and two younger siblings, she said. Stevenson originally became interested in the language, and wanted to learn more about Korean culture.
“I wanted to further my education over there,” Stevenson continued. “I became interested in the women’s university. I wanted to study there after graduation, but you have to know Korean, and pass a test. I wanted to experience Korea before I got too old. I love the culture so far.”
Stevenson will have 10-hour school days, and will work closely to earn her grades in the English class—more of the basics. Stevenson plans to attend university tours, and her goal is to successfully complete the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT). It is like the Korean version of the SAT, Stevenson said.
Stevenson’s mother, Ramona Stevenson, said the process hasn’t been easy. The family and Stevenson had to work closely with the guidance counselor at Bradwell, and work with the Liberty County Board of Education. At one point, no one was sure how to approach it.
“Mia had to complete everything in one semester to be a senior when she returns,” Ramona Stevenson said. “Our worry was when she returns, whether she would be a senior or not.”
“Not everyone is meant to be an exchange student,” Stevenson said. “Not everyone gets accepted. I applied a year early, and the organizations I’ve worked with have been helpful in guiding me. It was nerve wracking—the video chat interviews especially with the English coordinator and Korean coordinator.”
Stevenson is participating in the foreign exchange program through Quest International Exchange, and KISE, the Korean International Student Exchange. The cost of the tuition was $11,500, Stevenson continued. She worked to fundraise at least half of the tuition, her mother said. Stevenson gathered funds from sponsors, and from fundraising events she worked to earn what was needed.
“She never gives up,” Ramona Stevenson said. “She did amazing. She really put in her part for her dreams. There’s a lot of kids who don’t know where to start, but if you have a dream, it doesn’t have to just stay a dream.”
“I want the younger generation to be open to different cultures,” Stevenson said. “If you have a dream, then run with it.”
Stevenson and her family want to thank her sponsors: Fellowship of Love Ministries; Frieda Hunter with Gulliver and Son’s Roofing; Stevenson’s Korean adoptive uncle Sung Seu; Steven’s siblings, Monty, Rico, Roxie and their spouses; parents Thomas and Ramona Stevenson; Dr. David and Nancy Peer at Liberty County Chiropractic; Zum Rosenhof; Leslie and Johnathan Gonzalez; Joyce and Kermit Neesmith; Rogue Beauty; Donna Watson; and Lori and Morgan Minchey.
“Without everyone, none of this would have been possible,” Stevenson said.