Most resettled North Koreans attend non-accredited alternative schools that typically can’t hire qualified English teachers, and they get little practice conversing with native English speakers. Consequently, although they enroll in universities with relative ease, they do so with inferior English skills. This causes trouble further down the line when they look for jobs or try to get promotions, because knowing English is critical for success in the South Korean labor market.
Many resettled North Koreans also have limited exposure to all of the career options that are out there. This causes them to often pursue majors with limited foresight, preparation, and planning, creating further employment problems and hindering success.
We empower resettled North Koreans to make well-informed decisions, set and achieve self-established goals, and become self-sufficient through our Study Abroad & Career Development (SACD) Program, which has three essential components:
LANGUAGE & CULTURAL IMMERSION
Participants travel to a U.S. city where they live with an American homestay family and enroll for a year at a local community college. During the semester, participants take intensive English classes and can be connected with one-on-one tutors so that they can use what they learn in the classroom to talk with native English speakers. They are also encouraged to participate in activities with the student body so they become fully immersed in the community. We have found that experiencing diverse cultural perspectives in this way helps participants better understand the world and take more ownership of their identity.
SACD Program participants have opportunities to use and develop their skills and interests while assisting and supporting others. Volunteering allows participants to get to know their new community, helps them improve various skill-sets, and provides a greater sense of accomplishment and confidence.
The SACD Program facilitates active career exploration and expands participants’ breadth of knowledge in their chosen career fields. Participants are matched with mentors based on their career interests and personality. Mentors give their time and expertise to help participants explore careers through informal interviews and job shadowing.
We had two participants when we launched the SACD Program pilot in 2013
“The people I met in the U.S. through the SACD Program changed my life. I am more confident in my English-speaking abilities, and I feel comfortable in my own skin as a North Korean person living in South Korea. As a university student at one of the top schools in South Korea, the renewed confidence will help me better navigate the competitive environment at school and in society in general.”
IMPACT & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
“Navigating San Francisco (often alone), making friends with classmates, and understanding my teachers’ lectures were further proof that I was steadily improving, which spurred me on to study harder. Seeing the progress that I made gives me hope for my future and confidence in my future plans. I’m more proactive about pursuing my goals than I was before I participated in the program.”
IMPACT & ACCOMPLISHMENTS