|It’s not everyday that a foreign dignitary joins you for your Korean 3 class. But on Monday, twenty Democracy Prep Charter High School scholars had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host The First Lady of South Korea, Kim Jung-sook. The First Lady joined the scholars during their Korean lesson while they studied the verb “되다” which means “to become.” She sat with the scholars and even participated in answering the writing prompt.
The First Lady requested to visit Democracy Prep during her trip to New York City (she and her husband South Korean President Moon Jae-in are attending the United Nations General Assembly). She had previously seen a documentary about Democracy Prep’s one-of-a-kind Korean program and corresponding Korean-focused extracurricular activities like Korean traditional dance and international trips to South Korea.
She told the scholars:
“I hope that all of you will go on to reach the goals that you have set for yourself and that in the future you will act as bridge builders between Korea and the United States. I am sure that getting to know more about Korea, this far-away country on the other side of the world, will expand your horizons and encourage you to dream bigger.”
She also reiterated the importance of education, saying it “changes every one of us and makes the world a better place.”
After her remarks, the First Lady heard several students read aloud the response they had written in Korean about what they wanted to study and what they wanted to become after they graduate from college.
At the end of the lesson, the First Lady took some time to speak to scholars individually.
“My favorite part of the visit was when she hugged me– this was also the most surprising thing, too,” said Sir Dylan Allotey, a DPCHS scholar. “One of my friends said, ‘Today’s Sir Dylan’s birthday,’ and she hugged me right away! I also liked her speech although I could only understand a little of it with my Korean speaking skills. I did not expect the First Lady to be so amicable and kind.”
The scholars felt safe and supported speaking Korean in front of the First Lady.
“The best part was when she supported us speaking Korean even though [our Korean] was far from perfect,” said Chandelle Duran, a DPCHS scholar. “She was very encouraging and a great person to have around. She had a patience that…made the classroom feel safer and more inviting.”
So what’s next? The First Lady said she would like to see DPCHS scholars the next time they visit South Korea this coming April. Everyone here at Democracy Prep looks forward to continuing the relationship we have with the South Korean people, their culture, and their leaders.
The visit was highly publicized in Korean news media. You can see a few examples below:
It was also covered locally on NY1.
To read more about Democracy Prep’s Korean program, see the following blog posts:
A huge thank you goes to the whole DPCHS team, who so graciously prepared for the visit and welcomed our visitors. Thank you!