Roanoke College students explore ties to Korea during research trip

Published: Aug. 18, 2023 at 7:31 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Kim Kyusik studied at Roanoke College at the turn of the 20th century. He graduated in 1903, and became a leading figure in the Korean Independence movement.

Today, Roanoke College is still exploring that history and the school’s ties to the Republic of Korea.

Earlier this summer, history professors Stella Xu and Whitney Leeson led six students on a three-week visit to South Korea. They were researching the legacy of protestant missionaries from the United States, and learning more about the prominent Koreans who studied on the Salem campus more than 100 years ago.

“So to us it was a research trip,” Xu told WDBJ7, “but at the same time, we fulfilled our mission to reconnect with our ties with Korea.”

Senior Lewis Edwards said the trip took him out of his comfort zone, but it was the type of experiential learning that brought him to Roanoke College.

“It was jam-packed. 21 days, and we were on the go most of those 21 days,” he said.

He enjoyed interacting with people of all ages, and is glad that Roanoke College students are helping to rebuild the school’s Korean connection.

“It’s something that Dr. Xu has worked very hard to research into, but I think it’s important for students to realize as well,” Edwards said. “Yes, it may have been by the wayside for a little bit, but it’s coming into the light again.”

The students are back home now, but the work will continue.

They plan to share their experiences and the results of their research with a podcast, in a national conference and in other activities on the Roanoke College campus.

The trip also included a visit to Wonju, one of Roanoke’s sister cities. And the group hopes to take part in the celebration of that 60-year relationship in 2024.