Making His Breaks
Fulbright recipient to teach English, study urban planning
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jun 19, 2017) — Kennesaw State University alumnus Vincent Brown enjoys communicating, whether he’s making someone smile with a witty pun, conversing in any of three languages he speaks, or expressing himself without words through his passionate hobby of dance.
Next month, Brown will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share his love of language with schoolchildren from another culture. He received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award and will spend the next year teaching English to secondary school students in South Korea.
“The Fulbright means I get to live out a dream,” Brown said. “I can have the prestige of the Fulbright name on my application toward graduate school, and I can put this experience toward working through grad school.”
Brown was in the University Honors Program and graduated in December 2016, earning a bachelor’s degree in integrative studies with a dual concentration in French and Korean languages. Following his year in South Korea, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning.
Brown attributes his interest in city planning to growing up in Marietta and seeing the Atlanta area’s challenges to meet the infrastructure and transportation needs of its growing population. South Korea’s public transportation system is regarded as one of the best in the world, Brown said, so it will be an excellent model to study for his career aspirations.
“I want to travel around the world improving cities and helping people get to where they’re going,” he said. “Even though I’ll be making a living from it, it will be my way of giving back to the world.”
Moving around of an entirely different sort, though, is what Brown said made him “infatuated with Korea.” Breakdancing, popularized in the 1980s, experienced a resurgence about 10 years ago in several parts of the world, including South Korea. Several of Brown’s favorite breakdancers were Korean, and he would watch online videos of their routines for hours while he emulated their dance moves.
Brown’s interest continued after he enrolled at Kennesaw State, and he started a breakdancing club that meets on campus twice a week. He also formed KSU’s Korean Language Club after taking Korean courses under program advisor Jeongyi Lee.
Brown considers dancing to be not just a pastime, but a means to connect with people of different ages and backgrounds. He became an instructor at three dance studios in Cobb County and will be perfectly happy to introduce breakdancing to any of his English students in South Korea who might be interested.
“It bridges intercultural gaps,” Brown said. “I know people who don’t speak English, but we can have conversations through dance for hours.”
Brown is no stranger to South Korea, having traveled there on two of the three education abroad trips he took as a Kennesaw State student. His first visit was to Seoul Women’s University on a program to observe Korea’s history and culture. The second was a six-month stay that included traveling the country, teaching English to Korean citizens and Burmese migrants, and intensively studying the Korean language in classes for four hours per day, five days a week for 12 weeks.
In addition to his travels to Korea, Brown spent a month in Canada studying French. For each of his three education abroad trips, Brown received a KSU Global Learning Scholarship.
“Vincent’s natural creativity, self-motivation and spirit of adventure will serve him — and his students in Korea — exceptionally well,” said Michelle Miles, Kennesaw State’s director of national and international scholarships and fellowships. “He is independent and intuitive and has carved a niche in his studies that has allowed him to pursue his passions of cross-cultural exchange and community involvement across the disciplines. Vincent is committed to extending his love of international communities to his language classrooms, and his energy and optimism are palpable.”
Brown applied to a few colleges, but said he chose Kennesaw State so he could receive a quality, affordable education close to home. Through the Integrative Studies degree pathway in KSU’s University College, he was able to tailor an interdisciplinary curriculum with an emphasis in French and Korean languages.
“Kennesaw State’s Integrative Studies program allowed me to create my own degree and to plot a clear path toward acquiring intermediate linguistic capability in two very different languages simultaneously. Meanwhile, my elective coursework allowed me to delve into classes centered around human trafficking, dance and urban geography,” Brown said. “I’m glad I came here.”
— Paul Floeckher
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.