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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Founders Week: The Oxford files

Being at the lecture that Andy Urban delivered at Oxford College for Founders Week was a bit of a Janus experience, seeing like that two-headed Roman god into the past while also looking into the future.

Urban’s lecture, Romance and Race in the Jim Crow South: Yun Ch’i-ho and the Personal Politics of Christian Reform, centered on Yun Ch’i-Ho 1893Ox, a Korean national who was Emory’s first international student and alumnus. Urban, who is a postdoctoral research fellow with Emory’s Transforming Community Project, read Yun’s diary, which he kept while he was at Emory on what is now the Oxford campus, as well as other archival material during his research.

Yun was the first Asian most students and local residents had ever encountered, and his experience in an era of Jim Crow laws was a complicated mixture of acceptance and discrimination. Contrasting with those realities were the many international students in the audience, representing Emory’s rich diversity in the 21st century, and capping it all was the presence of Hena Chun 08Ox 10C (above, left, with Urban), an Emory senior and New Jersey native who is Yun’s great-great granddaughter.

Chun said that Emory was the only university in the South that she considered, partly of course because of the connection to her forebear, but also because she knew it had such a diverse student population. It’s astounding to consider how far we’ve come, but exciting to consider the breadth of achievement that Emory’s wide embrace continues to foster.

Urban’s lecture will be available for viewing/listening shortly through iTunes U.

-- Cathy Wooten, director of communications, Oxford College

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