My name is Leon Humphreys, and I am a junior at Democracy Prep Harlem High School. I recently attended the trip to South Korea during Spring Break. I have been on previous international trips to Rome and Ecuador, but I believe that South Korea was by far the most interesting trip.
South Korea is definitely a country where the culture is very different from the United States. There were many street food shops where people sell different food like dumplings, kimchi, and kimbap. Usually I am a picky eater and I don’t like eating new things, but I thought this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. It turned out the food was really good.
The best part of the trip was an amusement park called Lotte World, which is similar to Disneyland, but with bigger and more intimidating rides. Visiting Lotte World was a very special experience for me because I’m always up for some excitement. The most challenging part of the trip for me, and I think every other scholar too, was speaking Korean. Even though we have been taught the language, it is still difficult to speak Korean in full sentences. It was awesome to have our translating teachers Ms. Kim and Ms.Orthmann there to help us. There were many South Koreans who knew English, and it was so good to have a conversation in English with them. We also went to an all boys high school where we attended some of their classes. Since we were having trouble speaking Korean, and the students there had trouble speaking English, I thought it would be a place where everyone would make mistakes. However, it was a place for all of us to learn and grow and help each other out. The students were very supportive and enthusiastic to see us and were very excited when we spoke Korean. I felt like a real celebrity to them.
I spent two nights with a host family who was very nice. It definitely required a lot of bravery. All of the DPHHS scholars were sent off with one of the Korean students to live with their family. There were no teachers around, and you experienced a day you probably wouldn’t normally. My homestay host took my roommate and me to a P.C. room where you can pay one dollar for one hour on the computer. I could spend an eternity in there. The family made sure that I was comfortable and well fed, and it was sad that we had to leave them because we really bonded.
This trip was very significant to me because it proves that I am willing to try new things and travel the world to experience different cultures. This really exemplifies the Democracy Prep motto of “Work Hard, Go to College, Change the World,” because in order to change the world, you have to experience it first in order to see its flaws, and one day you will be able to fix them.