Posted by: csdailyblog | February 7, 2010

Students Hold Memorial for Beloved Classmate

Dae Ho (left) and Colin tour a copper mine in Upper Michigan.

The students’ memorial for Dae Ho Friday night on campus was very beautiful, and so I’d like to give all of you a sense of the touching ceremony the students planned to honor their dear classmate.

We gathered at 7:00 PM in the coffeehouse area of the dining room. While we watched a slideshow of Dae Ho enjoying friends, classes, and activities over the years, students and staff members told impromptu stories. Some highlights: how impressed Dae Ho was by the beauty of the tropical fish he saw while snorkeling on a school trip to the Yucatan; how dedicated and persistent he was when learning difficult academic material; how sleepy he was sometimes in morning classes; what a mischievous sense of humor he had, despite his often serious demeanor; how nimbly he maneuvered on the soccer field; and how his beautiful smile lit up his face.

Dae Ho, in between Field Instructor Jon Ciatti and student Eddie, plays a puzzle-solving game with other students during orientation this year.

Some memories of Dae Ho I personally treasure are from his sophomore year, when I taught him in Introduction to Research Methods. Dae Ho stood out immediately because of how determined he was to get absolutely everything right in his research paper. All of the students worked through several drafts, but Dae Ho especially rewrote and rewrote and rewrote his paper, asking me question after question about exactly how to phrase his thoughts so that he was using English idioms appropriately and his writing sounded fluent and pleasing to the native ear. We had many interesting conversations about how he could convey his thoughts in a way that made the most sense in the context of American English and American culture. His final paper was amazingly sophisticated. By the end of the year, I had great respect for his deep understanding of complex issues and for his excellent work ethic.  

I also remember particularly enjoying a saxophone solo by Dae Ho a few years ago. He played exceptionally well technically, and he also injected a loose, jazzy, and playful style into his playing that surprised me, since usually when I interacted with Dae Ho he was quiet and formal. Every time there was a break in the music, while the piano accompaniment took over for a few measures, Dae Ho looked out at the audience and broke into a smile that managed to be shy and a little impish at the same time.

Dae Ho (left) and Dick have their picture taken so they can be recognized as high-scorers in the American Mathematics Competition contest.

After sharing these memories, we watched some very funny videos from Spanish class in which students, including Dae Ho, acted out various scenarios in Spanish. The out-takes, of course, were the most hilarious, and we all enjoyed watching Dae Ho being spontaneous and having so much fun.

Afterwards, History Teacher Michael Salat handed out small candles, and, in a twist on the traditional candlelight ceremony we hold at the beginning and end of every year, we all walked with our candles in the dark to the path alongside the soccer field, a special place for Dae Ho. Michael lit the first candle and then we helped one another light our candles from that first flame.

Dae Ho canoes in the Boundary Waters during this year's Exploration Week.

A cold and gusty wind threatened to blow the candles out – and sometimes succeeded – so we huddled together to shield them, and helped one another relight the ones that went out. Michael hit on the idea of making hollows in the snowbank along the soccer field, so we could protect the candles within them. We all then followed suit and scooped out hollows in a line along the top of the snowbank, so that eventually it was lit from within by candle after candle. Once each of us had planted our candle in the snow, the edge of the soccer field was lined with flickering light. The flames by and large were protected by the hollows we had dug for them, but the gusty wind threatened them from time to time, and they trembled and sometimes went out. The cold wind, the fragility of the candle flames, and our fruitless efforts to keep every single candle burning seemed tragically suited to the occasion.

Leaving the flames to burn until either the snow or the wind eventually snuffed them, we walked quietly back to the Donahue Commons, where a fire was burning. Colin, whose family is close to Dae Ho’s family, and Jake, another classmate of Dae Ho’s, then rang the Lowenstine Bell nineteen times, once for each year of Dae Ho’s life. Once the bell’s reverberations had faded, students either quietly filed back to their residence houses or stayed to reflect by the fire.

Mary Anna

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