ECSU profs discuss international topics
By Reggie Ponder
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Elizabeth City State University faculty touched on current hot-button topics like renewable energy and tensions between the United States and North Korea — as well as more traditional history and culture subjects — at ECSU’s International Forum this week.
Five international members of the ECSU faculty gave presentations at the forum, which was held in the Gilchrist Complex on Tuesday as part of ECSU’s observance of International Week this week.
Boung Jin Kang, a professor of kinesiology from South Korea, discussed his native country in his presentation, "The Land of the Morning Calm: Korea."
According to Jin Kang, the United States, Great Britain and Russia divided Korea into North and South without consulting the Korean people. Many South Koreans have relatives in the North and vice versa, he said. Although there are genuine differences between the two Koreas, those differences are exacerbated by the way China and the U.S. view the two countries, he said. China sees the North as a proxy for itself while the U.S. sees the South as its proxy.
Jin Kang said that while many Americans seem to fear North Korea, South Koreans are "used to" the North and don't think much about it as a threat.
He noted that Korea has had continuous cultural and geopolitical interactions with China and Japan, the two countries it’s located between. The Korean peninsula is about the same size as Indiana.
South Korea is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, he said, with the 12th-largest gross domestic product in the world, he said.
Xiaoli Yuan, who is from China and teaches accounting in ECSU's Business Department, spoke about the history of CRH, China's national high speed railway.
Yuan explained that the seeds of CRH were planted during Deng Xiaoping's visit to Japan in 1978, during which the Chinese leader rode Japan's high-speed rail and was so impressed by its speed and convenience that he decided China also needed high-speed rail.
Today China's high-speed rail features the most miles of track of any in the world. as well as the fastest speeds — more than 300 kilometers per hour — and the lowest fares, according to Yuan.
Over the decades China has built more than 10,000 kilometers of high-speed rail, which is 60 percent of the global high-speed rail mileage, Yuan said.
Bijandro Kumar, a professor in the Department of Natural Sciences, Pharmacy and Health Sciences, called his presentation "My Walk With Electrons." It included information about the properties of electrons and how understanding them has practical applications for making renewable energy more feasible.
The electron is a basic unit of energy whose storage is important to the development of renewable energy, Kumar said.
He said Swiss scientists have, for example, developed a large solar-powered plane that is able to fly one person at 87 mph for a relatively short distance. Improving the plane’s performance — making it more compact, able to carry more than one person, able to travel faster or cover longer distances — will depend on improved battery technology, Kumar said.
Scientists are learning from nature, and specifically from the process of photosynthesis in plants, about ways to use chemical bonding to store energy, he said.
Shirin Siddiqui, professor of chemistry, spoke about her native Bangladesh, with an emphasis on two major festivals celebrated in that country.
Bangladesh, which formerly was part of the British Colony of India, has 160 million people — more than half of them farmers, Siddiqui said.
Suddiqui said Feb. 21, Mother Language Day, is a big celebration in Bangladesh that celebrates the survival of the Bengali language. The Bengali New Year also is a big fetival, she said.
"You can see that I am very proud," Siddiqui said. "I am also very proud to be an American."
Other facts she noted:
* The main export of Bangladesh is garments
* The country's Bay of Bengal is the largest Bay in the World, with an area of 2.17 million square kilometers
* Religious affiliation is 86 percent Muslim, 12 percent Hindu, 1 percent Buddhust, 0.5 percent Christian, and the rest other.
Hirendra Banerjee, who teaches molecular biology in the Department of Natural Sciences, Pharmacy and Health Sciences, discussed a trip he took to Portugal this past summer to present work by ECSU students at the European Cancer Conference.
Banerjee said it was an especially interesting trip for him because there is a lot of commonality between Portugal and the part of India he is from. He said Portugal established a colony on the Indian subcontinent and that the Portuguese were the first Europeans to map a sea route to India.
Portugal is a beautiful country, he said, and "the people there are so nice." He related a story about a Portuguese man who helped him and his wife find a place they were trying to go.
The notion of the "global village" is real, Banerjee said, because communication has made the world small.
Banerjee also made a pitch for the International Dinner, which will be held at the K.E. White Center on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m..
The International Dinner is for everyone, not just international faculty and international students, he said.