Kim, 00 (Student)
A lot of North Korean refugees live in the rental apartments in my neighborhood. Among them, an older girl who I have come to know well told me about PSCORE’s educational support program. She said that she had been studying English through PSCORE for quite a while now.
It has been 3 years since I came to South Korea, and mathematics has always been a struggle for me. So with the hope of finding a math tutor, I contacted PSCORE.
To be honest, in the beginning I hesitated for a while whether or not I should request an extracurricular tutor. It was a little worrisome to me that they would offer free tutoring services to North Korean refugees. I wondered if they would request something in return for their aid. But because my friend assured me that PSCORE had no ulterior motives, I was able to put in the request.
It has already been 3 months since I started my tutoring with teacher Yoo, 00. Previously, being a student in South Korea had been enjoyable but fear always lurked in my shadow. The sudden change in lifestyle had been quite difficult to adjust to, and South Korea still frightens me at times.
When I first started studying in South Korea, there were instances when I wanted to die. The end of every examination brought with it the dreaded report card, which was always disappointing. I developed a vague fear associated with studying, so I did not want to go to school. For 2 years, I could not adjust to school life and wandered about.
The extracurricular tutoring not only helped me improve my grades, but it also helped me understand South Korean society better through my conversations with my instructor. Teacher Yoo 00’s lessons did not end simply with studying. After the academics part was done, we talked about my past week’s school life and also personal struggles that I was having. The teacher also asked me questions regarding North Korean lifestyles and questions comparing living in the South and the North.
It is a nice feeling knowing that I have someone to share my worries with. Our conversations are not one-way streaks, but it is marked by genuine interest where both parties are free to ask the other things that we are curious about.
When I look back on the times that I wasted my life with foolish thoughts, I am quite embarrassed. There are so many people who have helped and supported me, and it would be a shame to put that behind me. I want to study hard and see my father in North Korea. I hope when the time comes, I will be able to stand before him without any regret or shame.
Just like how I have received so much help, I want to be of service to others. I wish to become someone that can stand in support for others and I vow to continually work toward that end.
Translated by Sooyeon Kang / Edited by Christal S. Yim
2011 PSCORE. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.