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Snoqualmie welcomes Korean visitors; Twelve students to study at Mount Si High

Native American elder Ron Stetler presents a drum to Ju Hong Hwang, mayor of the Korean city of GangJin. The Snoqualmie Tribe commissioned the drum from local artist Bob Antone.  - Denise Miller/ Snoqualmie Valley Record
Native American elder Ron Stetler presents a drum to Ju Hong Hwang, mayor of the Korean city of GangJin. The Snoqualmie Tribe commissioned the drum from local artist Bob Antone.
— image credit: Denise Miller/ Snoqualmie Valley Record

In Korean, “GangJin” means “tranquility of the river.”

Ju Hong Hwang, the mayor of GangJin, shared this fact at a reception he hosted at the Salish Lodge Friday, Jan. 9 to mark the beginning of a cultural exchange between his South Korean city and the flood-weary city of Snoqualmie.

The gathering was held at the Salish because its original site, Mount Si High School, was damaged last week, when the Snoqualmie River was anything but tranquil.

Hwang extended best wishes to flood victims, expressed hope for a continued relationship between the cities, and invited the families hosting 12 Korean exchange students to visit his city, airfare and expenses included.

The Korean high school students and the nine GangJin city officials and education leaders who accompanied them on their trans-Pacific journey mingled with host families and Valley residents, enjoying Korean food and sharing facts about their respective homelands.

Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson presented Hwang with a key to the city, and artist Bob Antone gave the Korean delegation a drum he made on behalf of the Snoqualmie Tribe.

The 12 students will spend several weeks attending Mount Si High School and visiting sites in and around Snoqualmie.

“I want to do many things with my host family, and learn many things about the USA, and visit many places,” said Korean student Haeun Kim. Though she was nervous about her English skills, she was thrilled to be on her first big trip.

Mount Si senior Sarah McCollum, a member of Haeun Kim’s host family, said she’s always wanted to live with a foreign exchange student.

“It will be fun to show her everything about our culture,” McCollum said. “I’m really excited to take her to this coffee shop in Snoqualmie, Isadora’s. Little stuff like that.”

This is the first cultural exchange sponsored by the new Snoqualmie Sister Cities Association, which was established to promote “sister city” relationships and programs between the Snoqualmie and other cities throughout the world.

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