Our hearts go out to the families, friends and the Republic of Korea as nearly 300 high school students are missing as a result of yesterday’s capsized ferry tragedy (4/16/14). As a three year resident of Korea, I know all Korean citizens are in a state of shock and collective mourning. My (Heidi) heart is heavy and there will them too.
During my time in Korea, I had the pleasure of working with three high school girls for almost two years. These young ladies took their academics very seriously and had great ambitions for college. Yeri dreamed of coming to the US and attending MIT! She studied both English and French and loved participating in social clubs, but academics always came first. Mi-joung carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and was often stressed about her academics. When she didn’t place in the top 100 of the national (yes, NATIONAL) academic ranking her heart sank and tears constantly filled her eyes. She was desperate to get into one of the SKY universities. Saeran was a dreamer! She gave her best, but not at the sake of an emotional toll, chatting about the latest trends, music, and online activities was much more her style.
Although these three are now out of college, there were 100’s of them on board the ferry to Jeju-do. The text messages and tweets which are now making worldwide news, tell a story of how a high school student in Korea, is very similar to a high school student in America, and the pain and loss of students with motivation, ambition, and purpose is a loss for us all. “Dae-han-min-guk.”