Full circle: David Lee returns to Dordt

Nyiah Gesink — Staff Writer

David Lee stands in a high school approximately 6470 miles from his home. He shakes potential Dordt University students’ hands, greeting them with warm brown eyes and a welcoming smile. Lee talks about Dordt. It’s far from South Korea, where he stands now, but the distance is worth it. 

At least, it was for Lee himself. 

Not too long ago, Lee was in the same position as many of these students. 

He stood before Kurtis Taylor, who was in his role at the time, and listened as Taylor told him about Dordt. 

Now, Lee can have a similar impact on the lives of students that resemble his younger self. In the summer of 2022, David Lee joined the Dordt faculty as the new Global Studies Program Specialist. 

Lee sits with his legs crossed at the desk. His office is in the student services department, facing the Grille. Occasionally, he watches students out his window, raising his hand to wave at one he recognizes. 

His dark hair is neatly styled to match the professional coffee-colored sweater and dress pants. A map of the world littered with colored pins hangs on the wall to his right. A standard clock clicks incessantly on his left. 

Lee was born in Korea but moved to Mongolia with his family at the age of eight. His parents worked as missionaries. After a few years, his family relocated once more to California before he and his brother settled in the Philippines for their high school education. 

Lee wanted to go to a bigger public school for college. However, as he listened to Taylor talk about his private, Christian college, Lee’s heart changed. 

“Ultimately having a good Christian higher education would be good for me in the long run.” Lee said. 

During his time as a student at Dordt, Lee played soccer and studied business marketing and exercise science. Specifically, he remembers the development of his faith. 

“Ever since I came to Dordt, that’s when my faith really grew,” Lee said. “I never expected to grow spiritually through Christian higher education.” 

After graduation, Lee went back to California and worked in sales and marketing for an liquid crystal display technology company. 

Then, Lee got married. His wife was from Sioux Center, they had met at Dordt. Lee began working for the local business, Pella Windows. Both he and his wife held on to a love of international travel and education.

“I love just being able to enjoy what God has to offer outside of your comfort zone,” Lee said. 

Although the position was originally offered to his wife, Lee found himself excited about the global studies position and sought out an interview for himself. 

As the Global Studies Program Specialist, Lee’s job has many aspects. The three main roles that he takes on are directing off-campus programs, overseeing international students, and coordinating international admissions. He has also taken on some responsibilities that his predecessors didn’t have before, such as traveling abroad to meet with some of Dordt’s partner programs. 

Lee has not only committed to helping students interested in global studies, but he has also begun coaching men’s soccer. 

On one particularly rainy night, the team’s game had been delayed multiple times, and finally, called off. The Defenders had been up 2-0. As the players made their way back to the Winstar bus, an air of sadness and frustration surrounded them. They were bummed. That night, the team didn’t get back till around 5 a.m. Even though his new job occupies much of his time and coaching often doesn’t allow him to get home until 10 p.m. or even later, Lee loves what he does. 

Lee has come full circle. He’s been an athlete at Dordt, and now he’s a coach. He’s been a Dordt international student, and now he works to help others like him. He’s thrilled to contribute to the lives of Dordt students now and in the future. 

“Yes, I want to be great at my job. But, at the end of the day, global education is an important small piece to the holistic education that Dordt is proudly offering to students,” Lee said.

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