These words truly capture the spirit of Dr. Do-Yong Park, professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, and the recipient of a second Fulbright award in May 2021.
The Fulbright Program, which is sponsored by the United States government, is an academic, cultural exchange program that increases mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries. Recipients address critical global issues in all disciplines through their work, while building relationships and knowledge. Receiving one Fulbright is rare enough, but receiving two makes Park a member of an elite group.
Park’s work for his second Fulbright will take place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he will collaborate with professors and government education officials to greatly strengthen engineering education in that country. Through his work, he will prepare 10 educators to teach engineering education programs in Vietnam as well as establish a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Institute at Ho Chi Minh City University of Education, the second largest teacher education program in Vietnam. Park will also be conducting research on systematic engineering education during his five-month project.
“My previous work as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) review panel of STEM education programs gave me great insights into using NSF’s framework to improve STEM programs,” said Park. “Utilizing this framework will help create hundreds of future engineering teachers throughout Vietnam.”
Park’s Fulbright plans for Vietnam are an extension of his first Fulbright experience in Cambodia. There he helped develop seven STEM education professors who actively committed to the improvement of STEM education throughout that country. One of these experts even went on to secure $10 million to establish a STEM Education Center with STEM incubators in Cambodia. Park also helped create a five-year strategic plan for STEM education and taught STEM to more than 3,000 high school and college students in Cambodia.
Park speaks highly about his Fulbright experience and the impact this opportunity can have on the world through establishing international collaborations, learning other countries’ cultures, and sharing American cultures to promote peace throughout the world.
“Through Fulbright, best of all, I realized that the world is wide and there are so many more things to do in my life through education than I could ever have imagined,” said Park.
His passion for international education has driven Park in his teaching and research, especially through his desire to solve real-world problems for developing countries. Through his earlier work on a UNESCO project in Africa, Park saw firsthand that education can be the vehicle that provides assistance in a myriad of areas such as policies, systems, and skillsets in each sector of the society when resolving conflicts and problems. Park’s own research has consistently focused on the use of STEM education regionally and nationally in developing countries, with special attention to how cultural factors incorporate STEM educators’ narratives in these countries.
“In order to promote peace and prosperity throughout the world, we must approach the resolution of conflicts and problems in individual regions as one body,” said Park. “It is my belief that education is the key to this approach.”
Since STEM education was initiated and advanced in the United States, Park sees it as a natural step to focus on bringing these experiences to developing countries in his work. Ultimately, he believes that this work is of great benefit to the students in his science education courses at Illinois State, allowing him to bring back a wealth of knowledge from his international experiences.
In addition to all his teaching and research, Park is also in the early stages of writing a book. Not surprisingly, it will focus on international perspectives surrounding research in STEM education. He is planning to include the voices of several different authors from across the globe, with hopes for a final published work for fall 2023.