For SVA’s Korean and Chinese students and their families, study in the U.S. presents unique challenges. There’s mastering English and American slang, adjusting to cultural differences, and finding common ground to make friends. After graduation, there is another transition to the career world, whether alumni start their professional lives in the U.S. or back home. To help, the College recently opened offices in Seoul and Shanghai, where members of the SVA community can meet up in pursuit of their career goals.
“We want to give these students a level of support that will ensure their continued success,” says SVA Executive Vice President Anthony P. Rhodes. “In part, that means strengthening our network of alumni and employers.”
SVA has nearly 2,000 Korean alumni, a number that goes up every year. And of the 78 countries represented among SVA’s international students, Koreans make up the largest group. Meanwhile, Chinese make up the fastest-growing segment of the student body.
SVA’s Seoul office is located in the same building as the Dong Soong Art Center in the bustling Hyehwa-dong neighborhood, known for university art centers, schools, theaters and museums. The office is staffed by Andrew Chang, director of the Office of Programs for International Students (OPIS) and faculty member, and Heewon Seo. As an alumnus himself, Seo (MFA 2012 Fine Arts) can offer firsthand perspective and practical advice on life in New York and study at SVA. In November, SVA officials and invited guests held a ribbon cutting ceremony, in keeping with Korean tradition, to celebrate the office’s completion. Joining Rhodes, Seo and Chang in hosting representatives of partner institutions Sangmyung University, Soong Eui Women’s College and Seoul National University of Science and Technology were: Controller Michael Campbell, Regional Coordinator Renyi Hu, External Relations Executive Director Sam Modenstein, BFA Computer Art Chair John McIntosh, Alumni Affairs and Development Director Jane Nuzzo, International Outreach Director Adam Rogers and Career Development Director Angie Wojack.
Situated in Shanghai’s most historic neighborhood, the Bund, near the Huangpu River, the SVA office is in a 1919 Art Deco building that was built out to SVA’s specifications. It features a multipurpose event space and terrace with views of the city, a dedicated video gallery, a library and lounge. The office is staffed by artist Renyi Hu (MFA 2012 Art Practice), an alumnus who also teaches at SVA in New York over the summer. In November, over 200 parents and prospective students visited the Shanghai office for a portfolio day, where SVA representatives offered feedback to aspiring artists and designers among the city’s 23 million residents.
Exhibitions, lectures, workshops and interviews are planned at both the Seoul and Shanghai offices throughout the year. This past summer the Shanghai office hosted an exhibition of bio-art organized by BFA Fine Arts Chair Suzanne Anker, and is now presenting selections from “Underground Images: School of Visual Arts Subway Posters, 1947 to Present,” a retrospective of ads created by SVA faculty members since the College was founded. Looking ahead, MFA Computer Art Chair Bruce Wands is organizing an exhibition of digital art for 2015 and SVA is in discussion with the Central Academy of Fine Arts—China’s leading art school—on future initiatives. In 2015, the Seoul office will host programs organized by the Korean Alumni Association.
“Our overseas offices enable us to offer personal guidance and real-time information in a way that wasn’t possible before” says SVA’s Javier Vega, executive director of Admissions and Student Affairs. “We also have the opportunity to collaborate on events and exhibitions with local organizations.”
To stay informed of upcoming programs, Korean and Chinese alumni are encouraged to watch the SVA Alumni Newsletter. To join the SVA Korean Alumni group on Facebook, alumni can request an invitation by emailing Heewon Seo. SVA is also on Chinese social media networks weibo, Youku, Renren, Wechat (sva) and QQ (184452575) for news of upcoming programs.
Images: A glimpse of the Bund from SVA’s office in Shanghai; celebrating the opening of the office in Seoul; SVA Executive Vice President Anthony P. Rhodes meets with journalists in Seoul.