2/26/2013 - Judson College Welcomes New Faculty Member From Beijing
By Michael J. Brooks
Judson College has had a number of unique professors and staff members over the years, but now the college can call her own one who protested against the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
"When the protest began I was teaching at Peking University," said Dr. Kathy Chen. “To protect my students I became involved in the student movement. I left Tiananmen Square on June 3 to meet a group from the U.S. Lutheran Church who were visiting Beijing. When they arrived at my home that evening, the situation was very tense. Three hours after they left, the massacre started. I was dismayed by how the Chinese government handled dissent. With the help of the Lutheran Church, I resigned my job and came to America."
Chen moved from Salt Lake City, Utah and began work this month as director of Judson's distance learning program.
Chen was born in Beijing but grew up in Inner Mongolia with her family. Her father had earned a scholarship to the University of Chicago to study economics and later studied at MIT. The new communist government in China didn't trust him, so he and his family were exiled to what Chen called the "Chinese Siberia." "It was actually good to be in another country since many of the exiles were learned people," she said. "It was a great place to be and to be stimulated intellectually."
Chen earned two degrees at the Inner Mongolia Teachers University and taught language arts at Peking University. With the scholarship provided by the Lutheran Church, she immigrated to America in 1990 and studied at the California Lutheran University, earning a master's degree in curriculum and instruction with emphasis on educational technologies. Then she enrolled at Utah State University to earn her doctorate in instructional technology.
In addition to her work at the University of Arkansas-Ft. Smith, Chen has worked in IT at a number of businesses and industries in America.
When asked about moving to rural Alabama, Chen said she was impressed with such a "welcoming community."
"I think it's a privilege to work with young women and to help them grow," she said. "Judson students can do whatever they want and modern technology can help them achieve their dreams."
Chen said she grew up without religious training of any kind and that it's a misnomer to believe that China is a religious nation. "People think Buddhism flourishes there, but it's not true," she said. "Communist China does not encourage religion. We were taught that religion is the opium of the mind. In the past the Chinese worshiped Mao [Zedong]. Now people worship money. It's very sad."
Chen became a Christian in 1991 and said she has a unique way of finding the right church when she takes new work.
"The Holy Spirit always moves me," she said. "When the Holy Spirit touches my heart, I know I'm in the right place. I'm at the place God wants me!"
Chen said she wants the Judson distance learning program to stand out and to be the finest quality possible. She dreams of the program going international. "Technology has changed the way we teach and the way we learn," she said, "and it can help us share ideas with people around the world and learn from them."