I feel like the six months of pre-departure workshops for LiNK’s Study Abroad & Career Development Program passed in a blink of an eye. When I first began the workshops, the only thoughts I had were about how hard I had to work because an opportunity like this may not cross my path again. This was an important opportunity for me, so even though I did the workshops alongside my schoolwork, I felt like I didn’t have the capacity to be tired. I was able to focus throughout all the workshops without getting bored. I think this was only possible through the hard work and dedication of LiNK’s staff and interns, who took my hopes seriously and made them into reality by dedicating their time and efforts. There’s a saying that the best teacher doesn’t give a hungry child food, but teaches them how to fish. I think there needs to be much effort placed into teaching how to stand on your own feet. When defectors arrive in South Korea, we are like small children. When we arrive, we are in a completely new environment. When we acclimate to a new environment, it’s analogous to toddlers learning as they get older. This study abroad program is a stepping stone to growing up and leaving the stage of being a child behind.
I have many memorable moments from my SACD pre-departure workshops. The first highlight was an activity where I had to interview someone I didn’t know very well. To do this activity, we went to the Itaewon (a neighborhood in Seoul that is well known for having a large population of foreigners). When we first received this assignment, I was really nervous. However, when I went up to three foreigners on the street and interviewed them, they were really friendly. Through this positive interaction, I was able to discover my courage. I learned that in order to communicate with foreigners, I had to have the courage to first approach them. The second highlight was when I was able to greatly improve my public speaking ability by using PowerPoint and giving a presentation in English. The third highlight was when I got to eat an American-style breakfast at TTukseom Park. This was a new experience that was fun. The most delicious food at the breakfast was scrambled eggs. It was the first time I had had it. The texture was unique and it was really delicious.
I was able to learn so much over the last six months. There were four main things that I learned in the SACD pre-departure workshops:
I believe the time has come for me to lead my new life like a bird and explore the world. A bird practices flapping its wings every day and by doing so, builds its strength. I will continue to have high expectations for myself and work towards these expectations with great focus. While in the U.S., my primary goal is to gain proficiency in English. To accomplish this goal, I will set specific targets for each day and work diligently. I will also meet and talk to people starting new businesses so I can learn from them. I will also take time to reflect so that I can fully process all that I am learning. Furthermore, I seek to take advantage of the diversity present in America by fully immersing myself into American culture. By being exposed to new culture, I hope to expand my intellectual and creative capabilities. I hope to actively form a network with people whom I can learn and grow from. I hope to be part of a community where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Based on collective knowledge, this community can provide me with strength that is necessary for success.
I’m certain that I will encounter challenges and obstacles while studying abroad. During these tough times, I want people who can support me, inspire me to keep on going, be by my side, encourage me to not keep my problems to myself, and instill habits that are necessary for success. Miracles are not far away for me. Miracles begin with the smallest hope. Then, with this hope, those who try their very best are given the gift of a miracle. I want to be the recipient of such a gift. Thank you.