BVU's McCorkle Fellows and Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, with a ''grandfather'' statue of Jeju Island. From left, Dr. Inez Schaechterle, Tim McDaniel, Kathy Kapitan, Evans, and Dr. James Hampton.
For two weeks beginning in late May, five Buena Vista University faculty members and Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, visited South Korea as part of the McCorkle Fellowship program.
The professors are:
- Kathy Kapitan, instructor of English
- Timothy McDaniel, assistant professor of mathematics and business
- Dr. Inez Schaechterle, associate professor of English
- Dr. James Hampton, professor of biology
- Dr. Kihwan Kim, assistant professor of management and Korea native who was not participating as a Fellow, but served as a guide on the trip
Among the places they visited were Jeju Island, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), three universities – Hanyang Women’s, Sungkyul, and Kyonggi – and the cities of Seoul and Busan. All involved stated their appreciation for the McCorkle program and the opportunities it offered, were grateful for a chance to get to know their colleagues better, and expressed great fondness for the food, culture, and people of Korea.
The four Fellows had these comments about their experience:
“Korea has amazing beaches, mountains, volcanic craters, lava tubes, tea plantations, rice paddies and flowers everywhere. We were surrounded by silence in Buddhist temples and bright lights in Seoul. The food is incredible; the people are so generous and kind. The universities we visited have impressive resources, and I plan to return to take some courses on Korean language and culture. I also hope to spark my students’ interest in international travel.
It was also great to travel with so many people who have intense interests in very specific areas. James Hampton was really excited about ginseng. Tim McDaniel was very interested in the government and David Evans, the pottery and ceramics. Inez, the textiles.”
“There were obvious differences amongst the universities we visited and between them and BVU, but I was especially struck by the similarities. It was cool to see how many similarities 18 to 23 year olds have across the world, as well as how passionate the professors were about their academic discipline and educating their students. The more international travel I do, the better positioned I am to encourage students to consider international travel as part of their educations. I can also now better relate to our Korean students.
I appreciated our interactions with everyday people, including Korean schoolchildren who wanted to practice their English and pose for pictures with us. On a professional level, I was intrigued by our visit to the National Assembly. I loved hiking up a steep and beautiful mountain crater on Jeju Island, a popular honeymoon spot. I enjoyed driving through the beautiful mountains that define the Korean landscape with Dr. Kim as our guide, being interviewed by a television reporter after observing a traditional ceremony, and the almost surreal (and very serious) nature of the DMZ.
Oh, and I leg wrestled a Korean guy. We were touring a green tea plantation, and two workers were wrestling. They asked me if I wanted to join, I agreed, and I won! The key to travelling is don’t say no to anything – and I mean that!”
“I have a soft spot for underdogs, and Korea has just been overrun again and again throughout its history. Most recently, it was divided up by the U.S. and the USSR after World War II. Yet I am impressed with the culture’s resilience, and how successful South Korea has been at developing as a country despite its challenges.
And the food – sometimes there would be 30 side dishes on the table! I’ve already come back and made kimchee and I just placed an online order to a Korean grocery store. We went to a huge seafood market in Busan that stretched for blocks. It put Pike’s Place in Seattle to shame! I was not as adventurous as Dr. Hampton, who would eat anything. I drew the line at boiled silkworm – those who ate them said I made the correct decision.
For my classes next fall, I wrote down a few quotes people said that we’re going to use as writing prompts. I also had two short story ideas while traveling.”
“When I arrived I thought that ‘the two Koreas’ would refer to north and south, but I came away with the sense of traditional and modern as the bifurcating distinction. Individual days often offered stark contrasts – for instance, a visit to the world's largest car factory in the morning in the industrial port of Ulsan followed by an afternoon and dinner with a Buddhist monk in his mountain monastery.
One way the two eras are joined is in the cuisine, modern fusions with Chinese and Japanese elements marinated in an ocean of kimchee. The blending of cultures, ideas, world views and intellects provided a fantastic experience and I am looking forward to sharing my enthusiasm with all my students, especially those in University Seminar, this coming fall.”
The McCorkle Fellowship program was established through the generosity of the late Drs. Paul and Vivian McCorkle, Class of 1959, who were both Life Trustees of BVU, to provide selected faculty members with an opportunity for international travel to enhance their scholarly knowledge and to add international dimensions to the curriculum. This was the sixth year of the program.