In Korean, 이웃 환영 translates to "welcome neighbor." From small gestures like placing welcome signs in their native language to understanding the complexities of cultural differences, there are many ways to be helpful to our new neighbors as they adjust to living in America.
Last week, community leaders came together to hear a presentation by Jeanne Charbonneau, who served for 17 years as the primary point-of-contact for South Korean families in the Montgomery, Alabama River Region. Hyundai has a major operation in Montgomery, Alabama.
Charbonneau shared her experiences, insights, successes and challenges with our community leaders. Topics she covered included educational placement, housing, access to medical care, and the need to develop programs to address second-language proficiency for both students and adults.
The World Trade Center Savannah, in partnership with the Development Authority of Bulloch County and the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce, presented a program and discussion in understanding how best to welcome our new South Korean neighbors to our local communities as part of Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America.
Charbonneau gave leaders a lot to think about. She said that we can expect multiple waves of Korean families moving into Bulloch County. The Korean families relocating to the U.S. typically serve here for three to five years before returning home.
These team members will receive a housing allowance and will rent versus buying a home. While Koreans typically live in high rise apartment buildings, living in the U.S. would provide them with an opportunity to live in a home with green spaces. Rental homes would need to include all fees associated with a home including pest control and lawn care in the rent.
As this significant investment evolves, making these families feel welcome and helping them adjust to life in the United States, Georgia, and in our communities is essential. The long-term success of large-scale, multi-cultural, international economic development projects requires an awareness of -- and sensitivity to -- both language and cultural differences. Everyone in attendance benefited enormously from her “lessons learned.”
Below is a quick guide created by Jeanne Charbonneau she gave to the attendees.