"I am thankful for being able to have great conversations with a young student every week. I regret not having had deeper conversations with members of my own family."

   Inwook Lee

"I feel most fulfilled when my student tells me how much he looks forward to our conversations. In spite of the age difference, I feel like I can relate to my student very well."

   Eunyong Yang

About us

About Seniors and Youth

Seniors and Youth (SAY, for short) is a cross-generational language program that connects Korean language learners with retired seniors in Korea. Why? Because this way, learning to speak better Korean becomes more meaningful.

Korea has the fastest aging population in the world.

And that isn’t about to change any time soon. By 2040, 4 in 10 Koreans are expected to be over 65 years old. Even now, thousands of retired seniors are looking for ways to stay active.

Meanwhile, there is a growing number of Korean language learners.

Gangnam Style. Kimchi. K-dramas. The list goes on. Interest in Korean culture has spread globally at a rapid pace. If you are learning Korean right now, then you are most definitely not alone.

That’s where we come in.

Where others see two unrelated trends, we see a truly special opportunity. Here’s a chance for Korean learners to regularly have engaging conversations with Korean seniors. As anyone who has studied a second language will tell you, immersion is the best way to become more fluent.

But SAY, however, isn’t just about speaking better Korean.

We are about something larger and more important than that. A world in which the youth does not engage with the older generation is a very depressing place. All it takes to change that is an open mind and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone.

"I feel pride in having the opportunity to interact with students at Princeton University. By allowing for conversations across generations, SAY deepens my understanding of the student's life and country."

   Kyewon Lee

SAY Seniors

The SAY Seniors are a community of retired Korean senior citizens who love good conversation, asking thoughtful questions, and learning about you. Like each of you, every one of them has an incredible story that has brought them where they are right now.

Who is behind SAY

The Team

Hi, my name is Yongmin Cho. I started SAY, and if you want to talk, send me an email! The program wouldn’t be where it is today without our incredible team. We share a passion for connecting people across cultures and generations. Together, we are working to build a smaller world.

Our Team Page

"He tells me that there are seldom opportunities to practice conversation with native Korean speakers on campus, let alone with someone in my age bracket. I also get a lot out of my conversations with my student and enjoy them very much. "

   Kaehee Lim

FAQ

What is SAY?

Seniors and Youth (SAY, for short) is a cross-generational language program that connects Korean language learners with retired seniors in Korea for weekly conversations in Korean.

How did SAY come about?

Korea is becoming a rapidly aging society in which talented senior citizens find themselves with an unfulfilling post-retirement life. Looking for ways to enrich their days by sharing the wisdom and skills they have gained over the years, many seniors choose to spend the latter years of their lives serving their communities.

Meanwhile, through the Korean Wave and the globalization of the Korean economy, there has been a rise in the global interest of Korean culture, including the Korean language. There is an estimated 83 thousand Korean language learners worldwide, with Japan taking the top spot and the US a close second.

SAY stepped up to connect these two groups, across cultures and across generations.

What is SAY’s mission?

SAY seeks to empower Korean seniors to become effective language partners and cultural ambassadors for Korean language learners. We also aim to help Korean language learners achieve fluency through engaging discussions with a native speaker. By connecting these two groups and nurturing their relationships, we hope to break down communication barriers that exist between different generations and to eliminate the negative perceptions of retired senior citizens.

How does SAY work?

SAY connects American college students learning Korean with a Korean senior through weekly one-on-one video chats. With the assistance of our Korean professors, a dynamic conversational curriculum, and a talented team, we strive to not only transcend cultural boundaries but also generational gaps, especially in Korea’s aging society where intergenerational divide is a growing concern.

Who can participate?

Right now, only students from partnered universities are allowed to participate. If you would like to establish SAY at your school, send us an email.

What do you talk about?

We provide a menu of conversation topics designed to engage the speakers in fun and interesting ways. The program’s focus is on communication, not correction. So students are encouraged to talk freely without the fear of being constantly corrected or interrupted.

What has been done so far?

We started with 14 participants (seniors' average age 71) in the first semester and increased to 16 participants (seniors' average age 68) in the second semester.

We are excited to launch our third semester at both Princeton University and Yale University fall of 2015.

Every semester, we recruit new seniors and provide training workshops where they get to practice conversational Korean with foreigners and students in Seoul.

Our organization has been featured in a viral video garnering over 70,000+ views on Pikicast and covered by numerous news outlets including Huffington Post Korea, TBS, and Joongang Ilbo.

Is this program right for me?

If you need regular Korean speaking practice in a casual environment, SAY is right for you. But, you need to be able to hold a basic conversation in Korean. For non-heritage speakers, we recommend at least three years of Korean training before participating. Heritage speakers can participate with one year of training.