So how do you learn more about students, their families and their home life? You follow them home. Well, we don’t typically do this as a matter of course. But at Daeil Foreign Language High School, host students invite American teachers to come home with them for dinner, to meet their families, and to spend the evening talking with them and their families about their lives in Korea, their commitment to education, and how it impacts their life outside of school.
DaSol Son and her family were just amazing hosts for me as they welcomed me into their home. I met her mother, who picked us up from the Daeil School after class was out around 6 pm and drove us to their home not far away from the Daeil campus.
Upon arrival at their home, a condominium located in a high rise complex near the school, Dasol told me the family moved here because of the close proximity to the Daeil School. Unfortunately, it meant that her father now has to commute from 60-90 minutes each way to his small business (where he manufactures and sells shutters and other external home furnishings on buildings in Korea today).
Dasol’s brother informed me that he didn’t even know the family had moved until he arrived home from college and his mother was driving the car in a direction away from their old house. When he asked her about it she said she forgot to tell him that the moved so his sister could be closer to the Daeil Foreign Language High School. Now that’s commitment to education! Wow!
Why do the parents make such a commitment? Her mother told me that she loves her daughter and wants the best for her. Her husband and she agreed that the move was critical to helping her get the best education possible. They want her to have all of the opportunities that they never had.
The father did not join us for dinner as he was working late in the factory, a regular occurrence, according to Dasol. The factory is a family affair when school is out, but the father adds hours when school is in session, resulting in longer days and the need for more workers to help out in the factory, which cuts into their tight profit margins.
So what does Dasol enjoy when she’s not studying? She loves anime. She has some favorite characters in Korean anime and has seen a number of Japanese anime, but continues to like the Korean anime better. The family also enjoys attending their Lutheran Christian Church, just east of Seoul.
Her brother plays the piano at church, when needed, and played a couple of beautiful songs on the piano before we ate dinner, as his mother and sister sang along in Korean to his piano playing. It was like attending my own private concert and it was incredible. This family is amazingly talented. Best of all, it’s something that the entire family can do together. Despite all of their many busy schedules, involvement in their church activities is a great way for them to connect with each other, in addition to their church community.
I mentioned that her brother attends the State University of New York at Buffalo in the U.S. So why did he decide to go to SUNY Buffalo and how has the family dealt with his long-distance education? He said they have been so supportive. Like his sister, his parents want him to succeed in education and graduate with many career opportunities available to him.
Half joking, he said they also want him to get a good job so they can retire and he can take care of them. Pressing further, I asked him how he would feel about that and he said he would love to be able to take care of them the way they have taken care of him. It’s only right to do right by them for all they have sacrificed for him. A very powerful message for all of us.