(The following message is the second of the series from three North Korean defectors that spent the early months of 2020 at ENoK. Their words were originally in Korean and have been translated into English by ENoK staff.)
When I was leaving for Chicago to join ENoK, the circumstances were not good. I lacked rudimentary knowledge of English and barely had any money to buy the flight ticket. Against so many people’s advice against it, I decided to leave for Chicago because I yearned to learn more. I thought I had given up so much in order to make this possible. But now that I have finished my time in Chicago and come back to South Korea, I realize that I have gained so much more than I have lost because of my time in Chicago. It opened my eyes to new things and broadened my perspective.
I am not sure how others study, but I believe teachers and the study environment are important as one can only achieve so much on her own. What I realized during this program is that a strict teacher, who is willing to speak the truth with a genuine interest in my learning and who is unyielding in terms of academic expectations, is crucial for someone like me, a North Korean wanting to start studying at this rather late stage.
I cannot tell how much my English has improved, but people around me keep telling me that I have improved a lot, so I would like to believe them. 🙂
During the three months I learned from the wonderful teachers, I believe I also learned the wonderful character that my teachers exemplified for me. Before leaving for Chicago, I felt as though the universe was conspiring against me. Through my time at the program, however, I was able to think more deeply about my life forward and gain the courage to try new things. I seem to have rambled a bit, but I just cannot express how great this program was, so I feel a bit overwhelmed now. 🙂
I would like to say that should anybody participate in this program, one can feel assured that he or she will at least not regret. I can guarantee that even if you think you are a bit slow in learning, you will come out of the program with greater confidence in your abilities, dreams and passion.