Korea in cream and crimson
From the moment members of the IU delegation stepped foot in Seoul just a few short days ago, it was clear this trip would be like no other, a fact owed in large part to the power of IU’s proud and amazingly active Korean alumni.
Following the IU Jacobs School of Music’s historic Asia debut – a stirring run of four performances in five nights, culminating in a final landmark concert at legendary Seoul Arts Center – and numerous meetings with IU’s many strong Korean connections in between – it was only fitting that we concluded our memorable journey through Asia with a major celebration of the many graduates of IU now living, thriving and making a positive impact here in South Korea.
As IU President Michael A. McRobbie told the over 250 IU Korean alums in attendance at last night’s special gathering in downtown Seoul, the nearly 1,000 Korean students who studied at IU last year and the 4,000 IU alumni who are affiliated with Korea are a vital part of the life of IU. Their ongoing engagement with their alma mater continues to give more Hoosier students the opportunity to travel overseas to study in an increasingly influential country with incredibly rich history and culture. And they have helped to expand the university’s academic and cultural programs back home through the support of such new developments as IU’s first-ever endowed chair in Korean Studies, which will enhance IU’s effort to be the premier place for the study of contemporary Korea.
Make no mistake: Korea is awash in cream and crimson. No matter where members of the IU delegation traveled – whether to Seoul’s top universities, which are among the best in the world, or to the office of the Minister of Education, which requested a special audience this morning with delegation members today to praise IU’s involvement here – an IU alum cropped up with a story to tell about his or her time in Indiana, the impact of an IU education and the lasting friendships made while studying on the university’s campuses.
President McRobbie is fond of saying that IU graduates are among the most “dedicated and loyal” to their alma mater of any that he’s encountered in his travels. Here in Seoul, that dedication and passion is nearly off the charts. Indeed, their pride in their alma mater was palpable during our trip to Seoul this week – no more, perhaps, than at Seoul Arts Center, as they watched the young men and women from the IU Chamber Orchestra, including seven students for whom this trip served as a homecoming, deliver a sensational performance at one of the world’s premier concert venues.
The trip to Seoul allowed members of the IU delegation the opportunity to express their own gratitude for the contributions IU’s Korean contingent has made and continues to make to enriching, enlivening and diversifying IU’s campus culture and empowering IU’s effort to be one of the world’s most international universities as it approaches its third century of operation. (When IU celebrates its bicentennial in 2020, it will truly be a global affair!)
At last night’s celebration, President McRobbie expressed the university’s appreciation to one alumnus in particular – Dr. Se-Ung Lee – for the “extraordinary” service he has rendered to IU and the difference he has made at the university – both for Korean and Hoosier students. Dr. Lee was the founder and president of Korea Industrial Gases, one of South Korea’s leading manufacturing companies, and he is widely recognized as a business innovator and for his major contributions to education. He has enthusiastically supported the international development of universities around the world—including IU—and through his dedication to international exchange, he has made possible opportunities that have been transformative for faculty, students and administrators at IU’s campus in Kokomo, Ind.
In honor of Dr. Lee’s support of IU’s international engagement, and in recognition of his efforts to help IU students and faculty expand their global horizons, President McRobbie presented him with the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion, an award given to individuals who have achieved a level of distinction in public office or service and have exemplified the values of IU.
For his part, Dr. Lee was quick to share his new distinction with all of IU’s Korean alumni, who, time and again on this memorable trip to Asia, demonstrated just how powerful the IU connection is around the globe.
“The spirit of IU may seem like it is thousands of miles away,” McRobbie said to those who attended tonight’s celebration, which culminated in a rousing performance of traditional Korean dance and music. “But it is also right here in this room tonight, with you, some of our most dedicated Korean alumni. You are part of the spirit of Indiana University, and your successes are the university’s successes.”
As hard as it will be to leave our many Korean friends, members of the IU delegation can take heart in knowing that the spirit of IU is alive and well in Seoul. And while our journey here is now complete, we can in fact look forward to many new beginnings as IU continues its harmonious engagement in this wonderfully dynamic part of the world.
As I say ahn nyeong – or goodbye – from Seoul, I leave you with one last parting gift – the final performance of the IU Chamber Orchestra’s historic Asian debut at Seoul Arts Center. Enjoy, and see you back home in Indiana!
Tags: Dr. Se-Ung Lee, IU alumni, IU Alumni Association, IU Chamber Orchestra, IU Kokomo, Jacobs School of Music, Kokomo, Korea, Michael A. McRobbie, Minister of Education, Seoul, Seoul Arts Center, Thomas Hart Benton Medallion