Alex Nelson PSCORE memoir
It feels like days, not months have passed since I began teaching at PSCORE’s Wednesday night classes.
My first night I hadn’t known what to expect but as I exited Seudaumun station I was warmly greeted by Chris and Bada.
It didn’t take long to get acquainted as we broke bread (or rather soup) together for the first time I could sense how welcoming and supportive PSCORE might be especially for its students.
In fact that first evening I initially did not know the students from the teachers as Koreans are often shy to speak English even when they speak well.
That evening I met Ilsu, who would be my first and most frequent student as he turned out to be one of the most diligent and reliable attendees of this Wednesday night class.
Initially I was unsure where to start with him. I had never met anyone from North Korea before and I didn’t want to be a callous ignorant American and begin asking direct and potentially insensitive questions during our first meeting and so we spent most of that first evening simply getting to know each other.
We talked about our families, studies, interests, all the things two people first want to know about each other.
By the second class I was feeling quite comfortable and even thought I would try to address some specific difficulties Ilsu was having with English.
As anyone who has tried to teach the phonetics of a foreign language knows, this was no simple task and months later we are still tackling what is perhaps the most difficult phonetic problem for Korean learners of English, L and R.
As the summer has passed and faces have become familiar I am thankful for this opportunity not only to teach but to befriend PSCORE’s dedicated and admirable students and volunteers.
The mutual understanding and appreciation built through the exchanges facilitated by this program are priceless and even after I have eventually returned home to the States I will remember our time together here among my fondest memories