By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Chae Hyun Song, 17, is a senior at Pierz Healy High School. While her hometown is Jeon Jue, South Korea, she will graduate with the other seniors at Pierz.
“I came to the United States to improve my English,” said Vivian, her nickname. “I am learning English in Korea, it’s required. But, I’m also learning Japanese.”
Vivian said Japanese is much easier to learn that Chinese. She also has some knowledge of the Spanish language.
Jeon Jue is the capital of the North Jeolla Province in South Korea. It’s known for its Korean food and is a popular destination for visitors to its historic buildings, sporting activities and festivals.
There are approximately 650,000 people in the capital city and education is one of its major industries.
Temperatures range from about 40 degrees in January to 85 degrees in July.
Vivian said she is loving her experience in the United States and Pierz. School has been a special treat, since at home, she attends school from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.
The last three hours of the day are for studying, Vivian said, so are not mandatory. But all seniors are required to attend school on Saturday, too. Students in the lower grades may also receive more education on the weekends from tutors, for a fee.
Vivian admits her English needs work. But, she said that when she is having a hard time, she goes to Jessica Janski, Healy High School’s counselor, or Mark Sederquist, an English teacher for help. She said they are wonderful.
“My school in Korea is for girls only,” she said. “And, we have to wear uniforms, cannot color or perm our hair and cannot wear makeup.”
Vivian is happy with the freedoms she is experiencing in Pierz. So much so, she said she would like to return and get a nursing degree from Central Lakes College in Brainerd.
“My mother, Kyoung Suk Lim, is the head nurse at a hospital in Jeon Jue,” said Vivian. “I have learned a lot from her and I am leaning toward the medical field, maybe with the United Nations.”
Vivan’s father, Jae Boung Song, is an architect. She also has two brothers, Min Sok song, 16, and Ji Sok Song, 14.
“In Korea, I am 19 years old,” she said. “People’s ages change with the New Year, not on their birthdays.”
Vivian is staying with the Jonelle and Tony Langer family in the Hillman area. They have two daughters. Arre is in ninth grade and Ashley has graduated and is living in the Twin Cities.
“The Langers have lots of cows,” she said. “Sometimes at night I get to help the family with them.”
She said that food in the United States has not been a problem for her, since there is a lot of American food in South Korea. She has discovered, though, that she doesn’t like tacos, cheese or avocados.
“In Korea, we eat lots of rice, soup and vegetables. And no pop, but lots of green tea,” she said. “I have gained 30 pounds since I got here.”
This past week, Vivian left with other students for the senior class trip to Washington, D.C. and New York City. They will return Tuesday. She said she was excited about the trip and was having a hard time waiting for the departure day.
“My friends and I watch a lot of movies about the kids in the U.S. and wondered about all the freedom they seem to have,” she said. “We weren’t sure if it was true. Now that I have lived here, I now agree it is true.”
Vivian will be returning to South Korea June 14, but hopes to return soon.