Educators with varying religious backgrounds who live on opposite sides of the world came together in one room at Sacred Heart University recently with peace in their hearts.
Teams from Sacred Heart and South Korea’s Dongguk University met to sign a historic memorandum of understanding, establishing a student exchange agreement. They were united in an ambitious mission of fostering better cultural understanding and the sharing of information and ideas.
The representatives were greeted by SHU President John J. Petillo; Rupendra Paliwal, provost and vice president; John Chalykoff, dean of SHU’s Jack Welch College of Business; and Daniel Shim, chair of the Accounting & Information Systems Department and professor of accounting. The team from Dongguk University included Tae Sik Han, president; Kwan Jeh Lee, vice president for external affairs; Jong Tae Rhee, dean of the Office of International Affairs; and Je Sun Ko, director of the president’s office. Students led the Dongguk group on a campus tour before the signing took place in Petillo’s office.
Dongguk University is in the heart of Seoul, Korea, and has an enrollment of more than 23,000 undergraduates and more than 6,000 graduate students. Founded in 1906, it is the largest Buddhist university in Korea, with 21 colleges that include 101 undergraduate programs/majors and 87 graduate programs/majors in Seoul, Gyeongju and Ilsan, Korea. There is also a campus in Los Angeles. The Dongguk Business School holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and hosts seven majors. More than 600 students from all over the world attend its summer international program—one of the largest English summer programs in that country.
“The faculty and student exchange is very important for Dongguk and Sacred Heart.” said Shim. “Sacred Heart students will learn about the culture of Korea, which will increase cultural understanding.”
Shim explained that, very often, people lump together South Korea, a constitutional republic governed by a president, and North Korea, a dictatorship run by a supreme leader elected by secret ballot. “They are really two different countries, and it’s important for the two areas to be distinguished from one another,” he said.
South Korea’s strengths include the highest connectivity in the world, top rank in ship-building, fifth in car production worldwide and a mobile phone—the Samsung Galaxy—that holds the top slot in worldwide market share, Shim continued.
Dongguk’s Han, who is a Buddhist monk, welcomes the new exchange and relationship between the universities and expressed that the partnership will help contribute to world peace, according to Shim.
Dongguk is Shim’s alma mater. “I’ve been here for 35 years, so it was quite a feeling to welcome this group from my old school,” said Shim.