Teacher Tours South Korea via Summer Fellowship

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Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School social studies teacher Michelle Penyy traveled to South Korea this summer as one of 30 teachers from across the nation selected as a World History Digital Education fellow.

Fellows went through a competitive selection process. After their acceptance, they were required to complete readings related to the live webinars on various topics about the Asian country. As part of the fellowship, teachers also create a unique lesson plan connected to their trip to Korea and present about their experiences there. 

The highlight of the fellowship was a 10-day visit to the Republic of Korea in July. The trip emphasized a deeper understanding of the rich history of the Korean peninsula, including its simultaneous economic growth and democratization. During the trip, fellows explored the history and culture of Korea through key historical sites, museums and conversations with various scholars.

Among the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Demilitarization Zone to see the 60-year-old border that has divided the Korean people. Fellows visited Dorasan Station, the northernmost train station in South Korea as well as the Third Tunnel of Aggression which had been used during the Korean War. Additionally, fellows had a special tour of the Freedom Village, Daeseong-dong, located close to the border. 

“Often called the forgotten war, our task through this fellowship was to witness the effects of the Korean War and understand the immense sacrifices that veterans made which resulted in South Korea developing into one of the most advanced nations in the world,” Ms. Penyy said. “Following our visit, my teaching of the Korean War and its legacy, including the establishment of one of America’s strongest allies in Asia, its development into a model democracy, and its strong capitalist system will forever be impacted as I now can bring a new perspective into my classroom which will allow students to understand the importance of the war.”