Jean Oh Q&A

jean-ohQ: What is your job title and what do you do within the OGE?
A: Within OGE I am the main Campus Director for the Asia Campus. I live and work here in Salt Lake City, but my main duties are focused on serving the Asia Campus by promoting it here on the main campus by giving presentations to various departments, and working with the offices around campus to ensure a seamless experience for our students.

Q: What is a day in the life of you job like?
A: A day in the life could be anything including working with the registrar’s office to make sure that our students are registered and that they have all the paperwork that they need, connecting our registrar’s office here with the student affairs staff in Korea and working out any kinks there are to ensure a seamless operation.
I may end up giving a presentation to any number of academic groups. For example I recently gave a presentation at the Faculty Brown Bag Series Luncheon with Sabina Klahr from the OGE.
I could also end up having meetings with the housing in preparation for our Asia Campus students to arrive, and seeing what that could look like.
I also have to check with the student health center to make sure that they have all the records from our students at the Asia Campus that they will need when they come here.
So this office is kind of like the “one stop shop” for the Asia Campus students. Everything flows through me, so I go all over campus to meet with everyone to make sure our students have seamless service from the moment that they are matriculated at the Asia Campus to the time that they come here and graduate or return to the Asia Campus for more semesters.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of you job, and what is the most rewarding aspect?
A: I would say that the most challenging thing is the distance. Being so far away from the students that I’m serving and the staff that I’m working with. I work with a lot of the offices here, but I also work with the student affairs staff on the grounds there at the Asia Campus. So the distance and the time difference can be a challenge.
The most rewarding thing is the work itself. Getting to know the many departments here on campus; I think my job is unique in that way. I get to experience all of the areas in the timeline of a student from recruitment to post-graduation.
It’s rewarding to get that overall big picture in being able to serve the students holistically, and seeing them grow and develop as students from beginning to end.

Q: What do you think would surprise people the most about your job?
A: What I encounter is that people on and off campus here in Utah have no idea that the University of Utah has an Asia Campus. Most people find it really cool that the University of Utah is reaching out globally.
I think there tends to be this conception that the entire state of Utah is the best kept secret in the United States with this misconception that we’re very inwardly focused and serve one majority population. So people are surprised to find out that we are doing something on a global scale.
I think the surprise isn’t so much about me and my position, but what my position means. The significance of having a position that is focused on a campus that is established overseas.

Q: What are some of your aspirations for the future of the Asia Campus?
A: With our motto being “Imagine then do,” I can imagine the University of Utah Asia Campus becoming a force of influence in Korea’s education system with ingenuity, innovation, and impacting society through our students graduating, then going out and serving the community.
We have Social Work as one of our programs as well as Psychology and Communication. These are practical, can-do types of programs where students can go out into the community and begin to immediately impact lives in Korea or other countries all over Asia.
I can imagine the University of Utah becoming a sort of household name globally through the establishment of the Asia Campus and its outreach to students from all the different Asian regions.
Those are my aspirations.

Q: With the OGE’s focus on international efforts, what is you background in international work and study?
A: Prior to coming here to the University of Utah, I worked with a non-profit organization that served people in developing nations. I had the opportunity to do ethnographic research and participate in projects in India, in the Philippines, in Indonesia, and Turkey.
I’ve had extensive travel experience in my work. I come from an Elementary Education background as well. So I enjoy working with international schools and teacher and professional development.
That’s part of the reason I was excited about joining this team, because I wanted to continue that international experience.

Q: Where has your work with the OGE taken you so far?
A: South Korea. I don’t think there have been any other places I’ve gone.

Q: Aside from your regular visits to Korea, what would be one of your dream locations to visit as part of your work with the OGE?
A: I would love to go to New Zealand [laugh]. If there was a global engagement and student affairs conference in New Zealand, I would love to go there. And if they held the conference outdoors on a hiking trail, that would be all the better [laugh]. That would be my ideal conference.

Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of the workplace?
A: Hiking the beautiful trails. I enjoy reading, although I’ve mainly been doing that for classes recently. I really do enjoy the outdoors so stuff like hiking, climbing, and kayaking.
I’m originally from California, so most of my go-to places are out there, and I’m still discovering all the great places here in Utah.

Q: Do you have a favorite book, movie, or television show?
A: I don’t have a favorite television show because I haven’t owned a TV since 1997, so my favorite television shows would go back to the 80’s.
As for my favorite movie, around Christmas season I like to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Sound of Music.” I really enjoy the classics.
For my favorite book, I’ve got to say, having taught the lower primary grades for a while, I love children’s books. They’re full of imagination and warmth, life lessons and love. I really enjoy children’s books and I’m hoping to write one of my own someday.