With Compliments to…


There is no better demonstration of friendship than entrusting one’s children to another for care, so it is a compliment to Canada and Canadians that Korean families are sending their children in great numbers for education here.

Hyungjin and Young Joo are the quintessential international students. Both love the idea of learning languages. Both love the freedom of being here and both love the development of their own independence. They happen to attend the same secondary school in Burnaby, a municipality of the Metro Vancouver region; they come from Seoul in the Republic of Korea.

Hyungjin, in grade 10, is positive and optimistic about her stay and her future. She loves the opportunities she has at school; dance, visual art and drama are activities she thrives on in addition to constantly working on her English language skills. “In Korea,” she says, “I had no time to do these things.” Hyungjin is also amazed that she can be friends with students from over 40 different cultures, all who attend her school.

Hyungjin first came in grade 4 to Vancouver, as part of an organized field trip from Korea; trips to the aquarium and art museum captured her heart. She returned, planning to stay only for one month, but because she loved it so much her parents agreed to let her stay on.  One and a half years have passed, and now she is planning to graduate here in Canada. It is thanks to her supportive parents, she acknowledges, that she is able to continue.

Young Joo in grade 12 is planning his future as a pilot, and maybe as an aviation engineer. He can’t get over the clean environment in Canada, and he is particularly happy that he can now enjoy action movies in English, as this was a big motivation for him originally to learn the language.

For Young Joo, his dreams of being an international student all started with an early trip to the United States. He had so much fun there that he forgot to call his parents until late in his stay. But once his mother got over her worry, she realized that her son would be a great candidate to learn English abroad. He decided on a homestay in Moncton, New Brunswick. “It was cold,” Young Joo says. But he loved the mixed rural/urban countryside, similar to the Korean countryside he remembered. After three years, he moved to join his mother and sister in British Columbia where they settled in order for his younger sister to follow in her older brother’s footsteps.

Many positives keep them in Canada, but it is not always easy for these two individuals who left home in their early teens. Hyungjin loves the school, people and time to meet her friends, but feels deep homesickness for her family; she has left her parents and her seven year-old brother behind. She also misses her favourite food ‘dukbokki’, a spicy rice dish and classic street food in Korea. “It is just does not taste the same in Canada,” she says.

Young Joo not only had to adjust to the cold winters of New Brunswick and push himself to be more outgoing, but he also is determined to learn English to perfection. He will need to as he plans to attend university in Canada. His modesty will not allow him to say he has good spoken English, although his use of vocabulary is as good as or better than a native speaker. “It is harder to communicate ideas in writing,” he says.

Learning English has also been a big challenge for Hyungjin. But both agree that the best strategy to improve is to make friends, join activities and start speaking as much as possible.

In Canada, the lives of Young Joo and Hyungjin are definitely focused around school, as they likely would be if they lived in Korea. Korea has a strong focus on academic achievement in and outside of the school day. Schooling in British Columbia encourages students to demonstrate well-roundedness by mandating volunteer work and offering numerous electives, and requires few exams. “In Korea, you have to study all of the time,” Hyungjin says. “I have more free time here.” Young Joo explains, “I wouldn’t have been able to join a soccer club or [a leadership group] because I was always studying.”

Young Joo and Hyungjin are achieving great success in Canada. Their future is bright, and they are determined to fulfill their dreams. In the face of the daily struggles to better themselves, they are demonstrating motivation and resilience.

Dear Korea,

Your children will be returned wise and strong. Thank you for the trust you have put in us. We have learned much from your gifts. The boundless enthusiasm, determination and knowledge within each of your children is a compliment to Korea and Koreans. Our understanding of the world is forever deepened, and we are reminded that it is possible to fulfill our own personal journeys. 

From Canada In Trust

2 replies »

  1. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. Id prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you dont mind. Natually Ill give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

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