English Lessons with PSCORE
I feel so fortunate to be given this chance to say ‘Thank You’.
Although it is a short expression of gratitude, I wonder as to the depth of meaning it contains. Every time I go to my English class, this simple phrase, ‘thank you’ fills my mouth and thoughts.
What is there for me to do in this society as I start a new life in a new land?
How am I to even begin?
While I was on the verge of losing hope with the thought that there was nothing for me to do in South Korean society, a friend who arrived in Korea a few years before me introduced me to a meeting at the PSCORE center.
It has been a while since I felt the urge to learn as a passionate youth. Studying was not only something new, but I considered it a luxury that seemed far removed from me.
But in this age of competition, the reality of a cruel society was that one could not survive if one did not learn. Learning was something anyone could do if only he or she tried, but it was not easy to readily muster the courage for it either.
It has been a little over 5 months since I settled down in South Korea. At first I stumbled my way to the PSCORE office and “thank you” was the only English phrase I knew. Now, I am proud of my ability to hold a conversation with the blue-eyed foreign English instructors and to be able to give greetings in simple English.
PSCORE’s cultural program and English class was once unfamiliar to me, but these meetings with foreigners and fellow North Korean escapees are now events that I eagerly look forward to.
To the PSCORE staff and volunteer instructors who encouraged our heavy hearts and befriended us, I feel I owe more than an expression of gratitude. I wish to show my appreciation by studying hard and becoming fluent in English quickly.
I hope this effort of good faith will be an adequate response to their kindness.
When I memorize one English word and go on to the next, as soon as I learn the second word I forget the first. Because the instructor’s efforts seem to continue in vain, I am all the more grateful for their encouragements and positive spirit that urges me to keep trying.
“I must not give up, old age is not a flaw in learning, it would be more stupid to give up now,” I encourage myself with these words and make my way to English class.
To those who are preparing for reunification with a warm heart, to those who are preparing themselves with knowledge, to PSCORE’s staff and instructors who are steadily readying the nation for unification, I give them my upmost respect.
Interacting with fellow North Korean escapees was once awkward and burdensome to me, but now I comfortably sit side by side with the North Korea youth and study English together.
I even anticipate the meal times prepared by PSCORE when I can merrily interact with my North Korean brothers and sisters.
I make it a priority to attend these gatherings.
I do not think I would be any happier at a king’s banquet, no matter how delicious the food may be.
Some people tell me that it is pointless to study at my age, but despite their criticism, I am still happy. I find great joy in interacting with my young friends, laughing at our novice English pronunciations and working hard to improve our skills; I feel like I have returned to my youth.
Having mastered one word, as if I have become an interpreter already, I all too easily daydream about using my English in a business setting.
Even during the lessons, sometimes I wonder how proficient my English will be in a year’s time. I entertain the wild thought of becoming an English instructor myself.
Although I started late, studying English has inspired my mind to soar the sky.
When I was young, I remember sitting in a classroom in the scorching heat, sweating and anticipating the class to end. But now, time in the classroom flies by and the time for farewells always come too soon.
It is said that blood is thicker than water, and I imagine this passion for unification is what keeps PSCORE in existence.
I again give my thanks, and I wish that the reunification that PSCORE is preparing for will lead to prosperity in the near future.
I fantasize about becoming an English instructor and teaching the younger generation, I also think about the day that I will use the English learned through PSCORE to communicate with the global world. I bow in gratitude to the staff and volunteers of PSCORE, without whom I would not have the confidence to stand here today.