U.S. school head visits Korea to meet alumni

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U.S. school head visits Korea to meet alumni

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Jin Sung-hwan, a recent graduate of Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, is proud of his alma mater. He did not expect, however, that the high school’s Korean graduates such as himself would meet again in Seoul to form an alumni association of their own after the school first accepted a Korean national over a century ago.
He was surprised again to learn that more than 360 Koreans had graduated from the highly rated American boarding school since it opened in 1879 and that a third of them showed up at a gala dinner held at the COEX Intercontinental Hotel in southern Seoul last Wednesday.
By the end of the year, they plan to have formed their alumni association with the promised support of the head of the American school.
“I came here to see the Korean graduates, to meet with their parents and the prospective families,” said Thomas H. Sturtevant, the head of Northfield Mount Hermon School, who visited Korea for the first time to attend the gala dinner.
“Out of all the nations in Asia, Korea has the most graduates in our school,” he said. “And the graduates from our school turned out to be leaders in all of the major sectors in the Korean economy.”
The first Korean joined the old school on the east coast of the United States in 1889, at a time when Korea’s last royal dynasty was coming to an end as it opened up to Western culture.
Dwight L. Moody, the founder of the school, was a Christian evangelist who sent more than 20 missionaries to Korea.
“He [Moody] literally had contact with Korea in the 1800s and those who worked with the Christian missionaries were identified as the ones who wanted to benefit from the kind of education we provided.” said Mr. Sturtevant.
The first Korean to study at the school was Park Hui-byeong (1871-1907), who went to the United States after studying in Japan with his friend, Lee Gang, the second son of King Gojong, virtually the last king of Korea.
Mr. Park initially planned to become a pastor, but he joined a group of Koreans residing abroad who planned an independence movement against Japanese colonial rule. Mr. Park died at the age of 37 of unknown causes.


by Lee Min-a
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