Recently, The University of Minnesota is bearing the brunt of some seriously damaging headlines in the media. A University of Minnesota student was last week arrested in China for having tweeted cartoons making fun of Chinese president Xi Jinping, campus crime is on the rise, and a University of Minnesota law professor was accused of stealing millions from investors in his father-in-law's diamond lab. But as a UOM student, I can safely say my experience so far as a second year student has been nothing but brilliant. More to the point, I have always felt a part of close knit community and one that is supported wherever possible by the university’s faculties.
Yes, there are niggling problems that you experience as a student there, as you would in every university worldwide (the freezing cold winters and homelessness in nearby Minneapolis among them) but insofar as the university itself goes, I’ve never regretted my decision - not for one minute.
A lot of people are talking about the University’s seeming indifference to the situation where a UOM student was recently arrested for his political views in China, saying the University has no heart not to step in to the matter. But I have experienced a very different level of support and community during my time here, mostly because of my belonging to a very special student group known as Chung Gong. We are a music group that performs samulnori, Korean folk percussion that was traditionally performed in rice farming villages to celebrate good harvests. Though I am not Korean myself, I have welcomed into the group with open arms and I absolutely love it when we spend time together. Why did I join? Well, music is a universal language and is used to communicate across all cultures, and I really wanted to get to know some people who came from different upbringings to mine, to explore other cultures. I also really wanted a chance to learn more about Samulnori, since I have studied Korean since high school and have always been drawn to it. A lot of people would probably think a group dedicated to playing Korean folk music together is a bore - boy how wrong they are. We get together more often than not to party!
Last week, after ‘practise’ we met at one of our member’s apartments where we spent close to six hours playing and drinking nice wine. After putting on a Christmas concert down at a mall in Minneapolis, we were able to splurge on some nice Latour wines and boy did it go down well.
From day one, we have been supported by the university in whatever way we have needed. If we need a space to practise, they provide it for us. If we want to host a concert, they support us with venue hire, programs and promoting the event. Whenever we have asked to be given time off for practise or a concert, our tutors have always obliged. I honestly feel like our professors and faculty leaders are as equally invested in our co-curricular activities and personal development as they are in our academic performance, which is just so refreshing for a university student.