By Elise Crosley | Staff Writer
Sophomore Jinhaeng Lee is one of the hundreds of international students at Baylor. Unlike many of them, however, the U.S. is the fifth country he’s lived in throughout his life.
Lee was born in South Korea but later moved to the United Kingdom for two years as his parents were training to become missionaries. His father was a general surgeon who had always hoped to become a medical missionary. His mother had a heart for the mission field as well. When Lee turned five years old, his parents finished their missionary training, so the family packed up and moved to Madagascar. While growing up there, he attended a small school run by missionaries, studying a homeschool-styled curriculum.
“I spent most of my days riding my bike around, climbing trees and talking with the locals. I followed my dad on mobile medical trips from time to time,” Lee said.
Once Lee reached the fifth grade, he was sent to a boarding school in Kenya called Rift Valley Academy. His parents remained in Madagascar as missionaries and have been serving there for 14 years now.
Lee was introduced to Baylor by an alumni who came to one of Rift Valley Academy’s college fairs. According to Lee, Baylor offered him many scholarships, and he had heard positive things about Baylor and decided to see for himself what being a Bear was like. While he went to college in the United States, his older siblings attended a university in South Korea.
“My dad hopes to improve the mobile medical service of Madagascar, so they are planning on staying for a few more years,” Lee said. “I hope to bring people from Baylor to Madagascar — especially pre-med students and engineers — but really anyone’s welcome.”
A close friend of Lee’s, Kenyan sophomore Shiro Bachia, met him back in Nairobi and now has the opportunity to attend Baylor with him.
“Jinhaeng is the sweetest and most caring person you’ll ever meet,” Bachia said. “He loves and seeks after God with such unapologetic passion. It’s so admirable. He can be super funny and goofy at times and quiet and reserved at others. In general, he’s such an amazing, wholesome being.”
Lee discussed the disconnect between national and international students, and what he hopes other students will do more in the future.
“I wish they would understand why we may think and act differently. I hope we can all have a humble and curious attitude towards learning about different cultures,” Lee said.
According to Lee, he has found many things about the U.S. he enjoys, but there will always be things back in his native countries that make him miss home.
“My favorite parts about living in the United States are the friends, convenience of getting the things I need and going to the places I need to go and the many opportunities that arise from being here,” Lee said. “While being in the United States is great, I will always miss the culture, scenery and adventure of my home country.”