Greetings from Busan, Korea!Nehemiah Salo
Written Monday, July 13
As most of the college knows, I am traveling in Korea for a few days to discuss possible collaborations with a couple universities and to spend a little time with the sport management’s summer-abroad program. This is the second year of the summer-abroad program. The students have been here since mid-June and are clearly enjoying themselves. Dr. Yong Chae Rhee and Chris Lebens from sport management are the lead faculty here, teaching, making sure that students are supported, and that the schedule and logistics are appropriately dealt with.
Last week I stopped in the city of Chuncheon to visit Kangwon National University (KNU). Some will remember a faculty member from this university, Dr. Seok Pyo Hong, who spent his sabbatical with the college last year. He was my guide for the two days in Chuncheon. I was there to work with the KNU international affairs office (similar to WSU’s International Programs office) to sign a memorandum of understanding or MOU between KNU and WSU. Deans often represent the university in MOU negotiations when traveling abroad. There is a protocol to follow which is provided by International Programs. I met with the president of KNU and other deans and faculty to discuss the MOU and sign. We then went to a local restaurant that serves traditional Korean food. It was quite a spread!
And speaking of food! Korean food is wonderful. My wife Fran, who is traveling with me, and I are adventurous eaters. We are at lunch here in Busan while I write this blog at a small local café that serves Korean-style sushi and noodles. We are focused on sushi! Busan is an ocean city so before leaving we want to make sure that we have a seafood dinner somewhere near the waterfront. Much of Korean food is spicy which is something Fran and I enjoy. In fact, the hotter the better – at least to a certain level.
On Thursday I will give a one-hour presentation to Pusan National University (PNU) faculty, administrators, and students regarding STEM education and research at WSU. Like the U.S., STEM is a national priority in Korea. Also similar to the U.S., Korea sees STEM as key to its economic development. Advances in telecommunication and medicine, for example, have thrust Korea onto the world stage as a leading innovator in these areas. And also similar to the U.S., Korea is beginning to see the need to take a global perspective with regards to its STEM-related innovations. STEM education is thus receiving attention in Korea.
Last summer, Chris and Yong Chae met with administrators at PNU while here with the summer-abroad program. The administrators expressed interest in a STEM faculty exchange, and expressed interest in meeting to discuss that possibility further. Chris and Yong Chae brought this information and request to me in late September or early October, and that’s how this trip started. While all of this is exploratory, I have a draft MOU with me and, as per WSU protocol, my dean counterpart and I will discuss ideas and work them into a draft MOU. Should we come to some type of initial agreement on an exchange, I will bring details back to WSU for discussion with faculty. Assuming support, the MOU will then be provided to International Programs for approval.
The top STEM education faculty member in Korea is a faculty member at PNU. Her name is Dr. Jeonghee Nam. It turns out that she is a collaborator with two professors in our college: Andy Cavagnetto and Rich Lamb. She will be in Pullman in August to attend the international Argument-Based Inquiry Conference that the College of Education is sponsoring. Fran and I will have breakfast with her on Thursday.
We’ve seen several interesting places in Chuncheon and Busan. We spent a night in a Buddhist temple in Busan with the students. The temple stay was well worth the time. Also with the students we have attended a Korean baseball game. Now that was interesting! Koreans seem to know how to have good fun at these games. We’ve also seen a Korean soccer match. Interesting to me are the number of international players on professional sports teams, though most players are Korean.
Our every need in Chuncheon was met by KNU and particularly Dr. Hong. He was a most gracious host and we thanked him for his work on our behalf while there. Yong Chae and Chris are also working to meet our needs and facilitating the entire trip. These faculty members have done a wonderful job in preparing and implementing this trip. They are both working long hours to make this a special and memorable trip for these students.
The sport management summer-abroad program is the first of its kind in our college. The program has paved the way for others. In fact, kinesiology conducted its first summer-abroad program this summer in Costa Rica. The experiences students get from a program like this simply can’t be duplicated in any other way. Though the sport management students have only been in Korea for 4 weeks or so, it’s easy to see that the experiences have already broadened their perspectives on a variety of issues. I think it is fair to say that these experiences have changed and shaped their lives in significant ways. As the world “gets smaller” through the internet and quick travel abroad, and global concerns increase on a variety of issues, an international or global outlook will be essential in solving problems and improving the opportunities of people around the world.
Thanks sport management for taking the lead.