As the international education specialist, Gil Cho works to develop and support all international programs and international students at West Coast University.
"I've traveled to 30 countries but the most important experiences for me were working abroad and studying abroad," Cho said. "Traveling is great. You have some really fun experiences, but when you work or study in another country, you really are immersing yourself in the culture."
Global Public Health: Buenos Aires, Argentina
2017 Fall I: Sept. 16-30
Global Public Health: Punta Gorda, Belize
2017 Fall II: Nov. 25-Dec. 9
Global Public Health: Madrid, Spain
2018 Spring I: Feb. 17-March 3
Doctor of Physical Therapy: Madrid, Spain
2018 Spring I: April 7-20
Global Public Health: Panama City, Panama
2018 Spring II: April 28-May 12
Oxford Honors: Oxford, England
2018 Summer: June 27-July 14
Global Public Health: Seoul, Korea
2018 Summer: July 6-21
Cho holds degrees in international relations and teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), and has worked in the international education field for nearly two decades in various roles. His expertise in teaching, program design, intercultural training and immigration will contribute greatly to the International Education program at West Coast University. He will be located at University Administration in Irvine, but will work across all campuses to promote international education and cultural competency for WCU.
Why is international education important?
From entertainment to commerce, every facet of society is globalizing. In order to keep up with globalization, there is an increasing demand for a workforce that has education, experience and training in cultural competence and global awareness. In regards to the medical field, we find more medical professionals applying their practice globally, i.e. participating in Nurses Without Borders or working at an overseas hospital. Moreover, our patients, students and colleagues will come from diverse backgrounds. International education is essential to enable our students to effectively work in such a diverse environment.
What do you want students to know about IE?
Participating in one of our study abroad programs or getting involved in our inbound international programs is a great opportunity to develop cultural skills while having a positive life-changing experience. It is not just visiting another country or meeting international people. It is experiencing another culture, developing meaningful relationships with international peers and faculty and learning to navigate through a different medical, legal, political system. In addition, going through such an experience forces us to reflect on our own values, which ironically allows us to learn as much about ourselves as the new culture we are experiencing.
What was the biggest takeaway from your travels?
Before I studied abroad in China, I believed I was completely prepared. I did a multidisciplinary study of China, I studied the language, and I prepared myself to be open-minded to every challenge I encountered. When I arrived in China, I realized I was unprepared and ill-informed. I struggled with everything; food, friends, language, class, everything. Once I reflected on why I was so resistant to life in China, rather than dwell on what China needed to change in order to accommodate me, I was finally able to learn. That change in attitude enabled me to have the most positive experience of my life.