Q: Tell us about yourself including where you are from and which department you teach in.
A: I am Michael Fowler in the department of GLS, and I teach in general studies. I teach Cross-cultural Perspectives, Leadership, and Introduction to Education. I have been at Handong for 4 years now. I worked 30 years in a previous career as a public school administrator and graduate level professor for teacher training. I am from Denver, Colorado.
Q: What made you come to Handong Global University?
A: What made me come to HGU was a complete “accident”, or coincidence. My brother-in-law, my wife’s brother, got married in Busan. After the wedding, we traveled up the coast, my wife and I, because we wanted to see the east coast. Then, my wife said, “Oh, let’s find Handong; I read this book, The Papyrus Basket. So we found Handong and got to meet Vice President Kim. They encouraged me to apply; I did apply and I was accepted. So I came a few months later: in spring of 2007. Actually, now I am in the middle of my fourth year here.
At that time, I was retired from my first job after 30 years. So, I retired at age 52, and that’s really too young to not work. What I’ve found since I’ve been at Handong is that I am not going to retire. I am always going to work, because I need to use my skills and strengths to help people… somehow… somewhere.
Q: Tell us about your teaching experience at Handong Global University, including hardships or joys you’ve faced.
A: Well, when I came to Handong, I was asked to teach a class that I wasn’t really prepared for. I am not really an English teacher, but they asked me to teach a section of EGC (English Grammar & Composition). After the first two weeks of class, the students told me, “Professor, you don’t know English grammar.” (laughs) So then, I developed another course to replace that, and it was accepted. During my second semester, I taught the same three classes that I am teaching now. [For the first semester at Handong] I taught Introduction to Education, Leadership, and EGC. And then during the second term, I got a course approval for Cross-culture. So I no longer taught English. (smiles)
Q: Tell us about your cultural experience in Korea.
A: My cultural experience started 35 years ago when I married my wife. (chuckles) Since she’s Korean, I’ve been to Korea many times over the course of our marriage. We were involved a lot with the Korean groups and associations in Colorado, but coming to Korea was different. Korea is not a foreign-friendly place in that not enough people speak English. There are not enough resources for people [foreigners] to leisurely travel through this country on their own. I think that Korea is a very exciting place to be, because on one hand, it’s really a leader in the 21st century in technology and its economy is the fastest growing in civilization. But, the culture and social conscience have not kept pace with the economic development.
Q: Do you have a vision for your life?
A: My vision right now is to change the world—one student at a time—by building relationships with students. That’s when I can really help, because they trust me. So, my vision for the future is to continue to change the world, one person at a time. I don’t plan on retiring from serving God and other human beings until I can’t physically.
What I believe is, I come here to Handong and it’s my mission work. There are plenty of suffering students from all over the world, who really need help here. I don’t think I have to go to any other country to do mission work; there’s already enough here.
Ok, but this sounds bad because it sounds like these kids at Handong are just suffering. (laughs) I am just very grateful I can be here to be part of God’s work here at Handong.
This is what I want to put: “To teach a child is to toil in the workshop of the Lord.” -Anonymous