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Bringing Korea into the classroom

Just two days after the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, educators and students from both sides of the Pacific gathered at Stanford University to participate in the second annual Hana–Stanford Conference for Secondary School Teachers.  

Credit: Rod Searcey

In his opening comments, Consul General Dongman Han, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco, noted the anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement and thanked the teachers for their dedication to teaching about Korea and U.S.–Korean relations. Professor Gi-Wook Shin, Director, Shorenstein APARC, welcomed the 32 teachers from across the United States and from the Hana Academy Seoul. Professor Shin extended his gratitude to the Hana Financial Group for providing the primary support for this conference and expressed special appreciation to Dr. Hyeon Kee Bae, CEO of the Hana Institute of Finance, for his enthusiastic support and his presence. Gary Mukai, Director, SPICE, introduced the conference goal, which was to underscore the importance of integrating the study of Korea in U.S. schools.

Grace Kim, PhD candidate at U.C. Berkeley and Curriculum Writer, SPICE, served as the facilitator of the conference and introduced six distinguished scholars, including Professor Michael Robinson of Indiana University who spoke on “Fitting Korea into Its Regional, Global, and Contemporary Geo-Political Contexts.” Amanda Sutton from Valdosta, Georgia, reflected on Robinson’s lecture noting, “A great way to start off the conference by giving the audience a uniform basis of Korea’s history and geography. I learned a lot and it was an honor to have met him.” 

SPICE staff also demonstrated a number of SPICE’s Korea-focused curricular materials to help teachers easily bring Korea into their classrooms. The titles of the curriculum units that teachers received included “Divided Memories: Comparing History Textbooks,” “U.S.-South Korean Relations,” “Uncovering North Korea,” “Inter-Korean Relations: Rivalry, Reconciliation, and Reunification,” and “Dynamics of the Korean American Experience.” “I’ve used SPICE materials in the past, so I’m sure these will meet those high standards,” remarked Will Linser from Bellevue, Washington. “I have incorporated Korea in my past classes, but after this conference I have a greater understanding, so I will highlight South Korea in the district’s globalization unit. I am looking forward to using the materials.”

The teachers were also treated to a lecture and performance of P’ansori, Korean story singing, by Professor Chan E. Park, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, The Ohio State University, and a talk and performance by Da-seu-reum, a Samulnori Korean percussion group at the Hana Academy Seoul.

Teachers teachers
Credit: Rod Searcey  

Presentations by high school students from both Korea and the United States proved to be among the highlights of the conference. Three American high school students of the Sejong Korean Scholars Program, a national online course on Korea that is funded by the Korea Foundation, gave presentations and were honored by their instructor, Annie Lim, SPICE. Also, Korean students from Yongsan International School of Seoul, North London Collegiate School Jeju, and the Hana Academy Seoul provided teachers with insight into Korean society and the lives of Korean high school students.

Media coverage of the conference appeared in the Korea Times (in Korean), Korea Daily (in Korean), and the Valdosta Daily, Georgia, which carried a story about the experiences of teacher attendees Amanda Sutton and Connie Wells. 

Because of the 60th anniversary, the conference had special symbolic meaning—especially when topics of the Korean War and U.S.–Korean relations were discussed. The teachers’ dedication to the teaching of U.S.–Korean relations to their students provides much hope and promise for greater understanding between the two countries. The conference planning committee hopes that the collegial relationships that formed during the formal and informal events of the conference will lend themselves to the creation of a community of learners amongst the teachers—a community that extends beyond the conference itself. 

The Hana–Stanford Conference for Secondary School Teachers will be offered again in the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016 and is sponsored by Shorenstein APARC and SPICE with a generous gift from the Hana Financial Group. Applications for the 2014 conference will become available on the SPICE website in November 2013.