P.L. JOHNSON WRITES IN 1910, CONCERNING THE SCHOOL FOR KOREANS AT HASTINGS COLLEGEAll friends of Christian Education and Missionary work are familiar to some extent with the great religious awakening in Korea. These friends know of the remarkable "seeking after light" by the Koreans who have been touched by our missionaries. And now comes another phase of the situation. Hundreds of young Korean students have come to America seeking our educational advantages, applying themselves to self-support, and studying Christianity and western methods of education. They have come by way of our western ports and also by way of the Manchurian and Siberian railways.
For more than two years, I have been investigating the needs of these students and have had considerable correspondence with their leaders and also with the more advanced students in the colleges and universities of our country. I find that there are about sixty students in our own state of Nebraska, scattered among our various schools, academies, colleges, and universities. We have had face-to-face experience with them here at Hastings College. After several interviews and a very productive acquaintance with Mr. Y. M. Park of Lincoln, Nebraska (their chief advisor in this state), we planned for a regular summer school at Hastings College, calling together the Koreans from over the state; and I am pleased to report that they are at work here with their own instructors, assisted by the Reverend James B. Brown, a returned missionary from Syria, as instructor in Bible, and with the assistance also of Dr. Weyer, pastor of the local Presbyterian Church. These students have had some experience in matters of summer schools for the past two years – of classes in which they were meeting under financial difficulty and without proper school equipment.
At present, twenty-eight of the boys are here, thoroughly organized in Ringland Hall (a boys’ dormitory on the College campus), conducting their classes and military exercises after the approved plans of an American Military Academy. They have study and work hours during the forenoons and recitations and military drill in the afternoons. They also have evening classes; and they have established a literary society. They attend the First Presbyterian Church here on Sundays, where they are members of a special Sunday school class. With them are three older men who conduct a market garden of twenty acres in which they are assisted by the students. The dormitories are as clean as at West Point! The cooking is done by the boys in the College refectory. The College authorities have granted them the use of Ringland Hall without charge.
My experience with students leads me to say that these Korean young men are both hard workers and earnest students. They have been honorable and trustworthy in all their dealings, and I have the greatest satisfaction in doing all I can to befriend them. About half of them are "outspoken Christians" and are exemplary in conduct among their fellow students. They are almost entirely dependent upon manual labor for their support and are much sought after by our citizens here for odd jobs.
I have written this circular to call attention, once again, to this phase of missionary work in our country; and I wish to say that there is an opportunity here to befriend those who will give a good account of themselves later, as I am confident. They expect to return to Korea to join in the "spiritual uplift" of their native land.
Hastings Nebraska, July 15, 1910
Very Truly Yours,