Children-At-Risk: A Joint Course, Israel And South Korea, 2016
South Korea is a country is eastern Asia with a population of fifty million people. It was established in 1948, after World War II, on United States territory. Since its establishment, extensive changes have taken place in South Korea – economic, social and cultural, as the country moved from a rural, traditional society to becoming one of the most developed and industrialized countries in the world. Nonetheless, the social services in South Korea haven’t yet successfully closed the gaps resulting from the rapid changes this society has undergone, especially the transformation from a rural to an industrial society. Therefore, it hasn’t been able to sufficiently address the needs that arose from these changes. Today, South Korea is investing extensive resources in developing its social services.
Research collaboration developed between Prof. Ben-Arieh, Executive Director of the Haruv Institute and staff member of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work & Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Prof. Bong Li from the University of Seoul. Their collaboration led to establishing a joint course for the Haruv Institute and the Schools of Social Work at both universities. Attending the course were students studying in the Master’s Degree and Ph.D. degree programs in Social Work from both universities. The idea behind this initiative was to enable mutual learning and enrichment through a perspective that compares the welfare systems in both countries, with an emphasis on services for children who have suffered abuse and neglect.
In April 2016, an Israeli delegation of nine students from the School of Social Work at the Hebrew University, escorted by Prof. Ben-Arieh, attended a one-week learning program at the Seoul National University. While in Seoul, the delegation members were exposed to the social welfare problems and the welfare system in South Korea. The students learned about South Korean policy in treating child victims of abuse and neglect, visited facilities for child victims – including emergency centers, shelters and residential centers – and also heard from the Korean students of Social Work about their work experiences. Nearly two months after the Israeli delegation’s visit to South Korea, students from South Korea came to Israel for a week’s study tour of Israel’s welfare system.
Strong social ties developed between the two groups, and the open dialogues they held – concerning the similarities and differences between the two cultures and how they deal with child abuse and neglect – were significant, both at the personal and professional levels. Becoming acquainted with the South Korean students and their country’s welfare system was an interesting and unique experience for everyone, deriving from the cultural differences between both countries and the great differences in their social welfare systems. This unique perspective led the Israeli students to re-examine familiar phenomena from different and new viewpoints.