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From Seattle to Seoul: Paul Carrington’s Fulbright journey to Korea

June 25, 2024

In 2005, East Asia Center managing director Paul Carrington spent a snowy week in Seoul, South Korea. Nineteen years later — and sans the snow — he’s returned. For the two weeks this June, Carrington will spend his time traveling the country as a fellow in the Fulbright International Education Administrators (IEA) program.

“I’m excited to go now, because of course that was a long time ago, a short trip,” Carrington said. “So in many ways, this feels like my first opportunity to go to South Korea.” 

As part of the program, Carrington, as well as eight other educators from across the United States, will visit between 15-20 Korean universities with the goal of forging relationships between institutions. 

“I speak zero Korean,” Carrington said. “I have absolutely zero knowledge of Korean, cannot read, cannot understand. I do know some Japanese and Chinese — I’m not fluent in either, but I can get by. So I’m looking forward to being somewhere where I can kind of be the idiot foreigner to a degree, but at the same time, have the opportunity to build a little bit of knowledge that is going to have a practical impact on my work.” 

Paul Carrington stands next to a statue in Seoul, South Korea. He is wearing traditional Korean clothes (the hanbok) and a black cat. The statue is of an ancient Korean warrior in battle clothes holding a sword

Paul Carrington in Seoul, South Korea, June 2024

According to Carrington, he applied to the Korean IEA program in large part to supplement this lack of knowledge on the region, calling the Koreas “a bit of a gap in my portfolio.” 

His trip also follows a summer abroad during last year’s Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminar Abroad in Taiwan, which focused on building Taiwan-themed curriculum for community college instructors.

Carrington’s participation in the Fulbright program also underscores the opportunities available not only to students and faculty, but to professional staff in educational settings.

“Often we come from international backgrounds, or have international experience one way or another,” Carrington said specifically of staff at the Jackson School. “So if we’ve come to the school with that experience, it makes perfect sense that we’re going to continue looking to grow by developing international knowledge and global competencies — and I do think that in turn brings value to the school.”

Carrington said he is excited to see what’s changed in the 20 years since he last visited South Korea, as well as visit cities such as Busan and Daegu, and attend a World Cup qualifier game against Canada. 

The East Asia Center at the University of Washington is housed in the Jackson School of International Studies. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI Higher Education Act, it is a National Resource Center that also receives funding for Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students at the UW.  The Center also facilitates study abroad; supports development of K-12 and college curriculum; and hosts student workshops, conferences, public lectures, and trainings.