Learning about Dasol Son

I learned so much from my host student at Daeil Foreign Language High School. Her name is Dasol Son and she is a sophomore at the school. She applied for the privilege of becoming a host student to an American teacher and was paired with me as I was appointed to be teaching her class.

Classes tend to move in cohorts, with the same students in each class or most classes, and so they tend to have the same classes with the same teachers. So it was interesting to be able to talk with Dasol about her experiences with the Daeil school, as well as her fellow students, her study habits and her ultimate goals.

Dasol works hard. She spends most of her life right now in classes, studying (individually or in study groups) and preparing for classes. I asked her about her weekly schedule. She is in classes from 7 am until about 6 pm (with a few breaks here and there in the schedule). She has individual study time from 6-10 pm and either stays at school or spends that time at home in individual study.

From time to time, she may extend that study time until 11 pm or 12 midnight, depending on a test coming up, a paper that is due, or an upcoming deadline. Monday through Saturday, she maintains this schedule. Yes, you heard that right … Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, she attends church in the morning with her family, and then spends the rest of the day (afternoon and evening) working on homework and playing “catch-up” on classwork and coursework for the week ahead.

So the next time you are overwhelmed with homework and your schedule is making you feel like the walls are closing in on you, think about Dasol’s schedule. She’s probably still studying.   🙂

But why? Why is she doing all this work when she could be spending time going out with friends? Spending more time with her mom and dad? Or going to the movies with her brother, who is home from school at SUNY University in Buffalo, New York?

She wants to attend a prestigious college or university, either in Korea or in the United States. She knows that her future is in her hands. Her education is the key to her future success and she doesn’t want to lose. She wants to win … and win big! So she strives to be the best in all she does.

When I asked her if she was the top of her class, she laughed at me. She said she doesn’t study enough to be that alpha girl (see earlier post on alpha girls). But she said she definitely wants to be one of the top students in her class, so she continues to compete with the best and the brightest at Daeil Foreign Language High School.

What does she think about all this pressure? She said sometimes she gets overwhelmed by it all and has to have a “heart to heart” with her mother, her closest friend and confidante. But she said they talk about the reasons why an education is so important, how it will help her in the future, and what she can do to impact that future. She said once they have that conversation, and she is reminded by her mother that she can do this and how intelligent, bright and energetic that she is, it helps give her the fuel to keep working. Her mother is definitely her role model and her strength to keep succeeding.

So how do you really get to know someone and their family’s commitment to their educational success? You follow them home! That’s in my next blog entry …