My heartfelt welcome to each and every one of you to the conference: “Bridging Cultures: Trailblazers and Visionaries” sponsored by East Rock Institute in cooperation with Yale University Korean Graduate Student Association. We also wish to acknowledge many sponsors who gave us financial and other kinds of support for this conference.
What a pleasure it is to bring together this unique group of people who devoted their lives or aspired to make difference in the world through their learning and service especially in deepening cultural understanding between east and west. As you know, this is a special celebration for East Rock Institute. We invite you to share the pride and joy of over a half century of commitment in bridging cultural understanding between east and west with particular emphasis on the US and Korea.

We will provide an arena for dialog, learning and networking between accomplished scholars, successful young professionals and aspiring students, both graduate and undergrads. In addition we feel this is a privilege to welcome teachers both from American and Korean schools, together with leaders of the community.

At this conference, we will hear experiences and visions of some trailblazers and visionaries of Studies on Korean culture and the Korean Diaspora, and launch Teach Korea Corps, a movement to learn to teach high school teachers on Korean culture and history, thus providing an opportunity for young professionals to discuss a wide range of topics of their current interests, as well as to provide an opportunity to serve in the field of teaching Korean culture and history to high school teachers.

A rich variety of arts, music, and dance are included in this three-day conference. For example, lecture and dance performances by eminent scholars of Korean aesthetics, a Korean Intangible National Treasure of Buddhist Dance, a world class architect, an award-winning quartet, and an authentic composer and performer integrating the traditional Korean string music of Komungo with western jazz, not to mention contributions from Yale singing group, and a solo by a former opera singer.

It will also be a special pleasure to honor all those trailblazers and visionaries related to the ERI mission of bridging cultural understanding in so many different ways. We will be meeting and hearing from those role models while seeking our self knowledge and reexamining our own life goals. We are hoping to reach some common sense of mission among well-meaning citizens.
In this effort, we are combining ERI’s experience of sponsoring 27 annual conferences for college and first generation professionals with that of four successful young professionals’ retreats and lessons learned from numerous teachers’ workshops and curriculum development. We believe this gathering will help us to find new and unique alliances, and the new energy to move forward.
Please join us in our celebration and may you find new fellowship, hopes and purpose in life by opening both your heart and mind at this conference.

Hesung Chun Koh, Ph.D.
Co-founder and chair of East Rock Institute