Dr. MooSong Kim moved to Tahlequah in 2016 as an assistant professor of health and kinesiology at Northeastern State University after receiving his doctoral degree at Oregon State University.
Kim studies university-level student performance and output in physical classes and has been published in a number of academic journals. He grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Incheon, not far from the nation's capital.
Recently, he discussed his personal and professional experiences as an educator at NSU during this pandemic.
Kim noted that all universities are struggling with the same kinds of problems, so NSU does not have to reinvent the wheel. To combat the virus at this university, and throughout the community, he indicated it is important to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines by washing hands, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks.
He connects public outcry with the increased transmission of the disease.
"The public has a problem because they are taking issue with wearing masks. There are politics on this issue surrounding the pandemic," he said.
He added that many in the community are asking themselves whether they value public health or individual freedom to wear masks. He favors preventative ways to prevent disease transmission.
"We need to educate people to wear masks and to practice social distancing. We need to get information out to the people, and they will make decisions accordingly," he said.
At NSU, many professors, like Kim, are teaching classes online or blended. It is a difficult task, but he said he will be able to provide quality education to his students.
The NSU Health and Human Performance and Kinesiology students will have to make accommodations in their education. Kim recognizes that COVID-19 has negatively affected many classes that will be taught this year, but NSU will make adjustments to promote public safety.
"It is really hard, but we make sure that we can provide quality education to our students," he said.
In his classes, Kim normally assigns group projects face-to-face, but these projects will move online. Professors plan to modify other assignments to limit time in the classroom.
Kim's office is in The Fit, and he oversees many classes that require physical activity. He said that professors, who normally meet in the gymnasium, will be able to use a microphone to broadcast their voices. This will create physical space between instructors and the students. It will also allow students to space themselves throughout the gym.
Kim said the virus has had many professional on him. NSU faculty members have been banned from traveling out of state to attend conferences and to do research.
"The travel budget right now is banned, and so over the summer, we have stayed home," he said.
He has also not been able to visit his family in South Korea.
Kim has resiliently maintained a positive attitude while navigating the negative societal effects of the virus. He emphasized that life could be much worse.
"Adaptation is really important. We cannot change our environment, so we need to adopt change," he said.
In his family, they have tried new things to adjust to a lifestyle of social distancing.
"It has increased our family bonding. There are good things in this pandemic," he said. "We spend a lot of time walking as a family."
Though his family members have had to cut out many of the things in their life that they have enjoyed, Kim has found there is joy in doing new things.
His parents, who still live in South Korea, are always checking into the situation in the U.S. They are able to access specific information on the coronavirus. He has reassured his family that they are taking precautions, and many people in the U.S. are following suit.
"We tell them about grocery stores like Costco, and how they are requiring masks," he said.
Though not all stores have followed suit, he has reminded his family that he is taking precautions by staying home to safeguard himself and to be a good community member.
Kim encourages Tahlequah community members to wear masks.
"Not many people are wearing masks, but if they are going to public places, know that coronavirus is very contagious. Many people do not want to wear masks, but if they go out, wearing masks protects both themselves and others," he said.