Michael Simning: A Beacon of Gwangju's Foreign Community

    April 03, 2009 07:32

    Michael Simning
    Michael Simning is known as the ultimate networker in the community of foreign teachers in Gwangju, and now the Canadian has been given a radio show at Gwangju Foreigners' Network, which opened Wednesday.

    "City of Light" airs at 11 a.m. every day and focuses on current affairs. With useful tips including information on travel, food, law and dialects along with English news targeting foreigners in Gwangju and South Jeolla Province, the radio show serves as the flagship program at the channel.

    Simning has lived in Gwangju for six years and for 10 years in Korea. He never hosted a radio show before, but was reportedly picked because he is at the center of the foreign community in Gwangju.

    He came to Korea for the first time 14 years ago and learned Korean at the language center of Seoul National University. He also built his career as an English teacher, going back and forth between Korea and Canada. Since he settled in Gwangju, his wife's hometown, in 2003, he has been working as a teacher and expanded his social activities by helping foreigners in the area and in voluntary services.

    He used to run a bar, a popular spot for foreigners who wanted to share their worries with others, in downtown Gwangju and is now running a two-year-old grocery store that sells ingredients for Western food for homesick foreigners.

    "When I first came to Gwangju, I found it difficult to buy ingredients for Canadian food such as cheese and spices," he said. "I wanted to be a help to some 2,000 foreign teachers facing the inconvenience in Gwangju."

    An English teacher at Salesian Girls' High School and Gwangju Science High School, Simning visits a children care home every week with 10 colleagues to teach English and provides voluntary interpretation service at a police station.

    "People in Gwangju are friendly and laid back, making the city a favorable place for foreigners to live," he said. "I want to help foreigners live harmoniously with Koreans in various ways."

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