December 12, 1999.
Have you ever been asked who you are most similar to? I was recently asked this question and my mind reeled for a moment before settling on a simple but self-evident answer... my parents.
This blog is supposed to be about my studies at the University of Victoria, but I wanted to take one of my limited blog pieces in the Schulich memorandum to express gratitude and explain where I come from as well as how my parents came to shape who I am today.
December 12, 1999. My parents, brother, and I arrive in Canada. We emigrated from South Korea directly into the harsh Ontario winter. My mom and dad lived in the aftermath of the Korean War and endured its economic and social impact from a young age. We arrived in Canada with extremely little to spare, but my parents were the most optimistic people you could ever meet. They did an impressive job at shielding my brother and I from the fact that we were tight roping across a blurred line of deficit at the time.
I only have a handful of memories from Ontario, but there are small things that stuck with me even though I never truly realized their significance. The winter that we immigrated, we couldn't afford to buy a car. I recall there were times when my dad would carry me on his back to a fast food restaurant in the snow just so I could have a proper meal for dinner. As a four year old, I was overjoyed that we were going to get fast food and quite oblivious to the reason why we were tolerating frostbite to do so (which apparently I had come dangerously close to). Looking back, I'm nearly in tears writing this because I now realize the hardship that my parents endured to ensure that my brother and I had an extraordinary childhood overflowing with love and happiness.
The kindness of my mom and dad was magnetic and even though they could barely speak any English, we were invited for dinner countless times upon opening a Taekwondo studio. My dad was eager to learn English, but unfortunately the strain of work and ensuring that I received proper education was put above his needs. I think this is why I've always placed education at a very high priority.
All of these factors shaped what my interests were and currently are: Taekwondo, philanthropy, volunteerism, and education. The aspect of education that I'm referring to here means to never stop learning when you are graced with all the resources you need to learn. In addition to my parents, I can't thank my high school educators enough for encouraging me to pursue my interests and find my passion. They were instrumental in allowing me to experience a diverse range of fields that I may have never been able to delve into had I been anywhere else. I highly encourage everyone to step outside of their comfort zones and try new things, especially when your mentors are constantly opening these doors for you to take advantage of.
Fifteen years ago, I don't think my parents could have ever guessed where we would be now. My brother is on track to becoming a doctor, and I've been graced with a scholarship to fulfill my passion in science. I hope Mr. Schulich is able to read our stories one day; I'm certain that many Schulich Leaders to have their own unique backgrounds to share as well. Thank you for your belief in Canada's youth Mr. Schulich.
Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, once stated that he had won the parent lottery. I have to respectfully disagree - I think I won the parent lottery.