Monday, November 18, 2013

Huyoung Lee/Oral History Second Draft/Tuesday 11 a.m.

Everybody's living a hard life in this world. Some are struggling to somehow change their lives while some are just giving up in the middle of their way. Just as almost everybody would probably agree, endlessly struggling to change one's life without giving up looks greater than just giving up. And I know someone who is struggling to grab what she wants. Her name is Sarah Song who is one of my best friends. She says she had failed, but because of that never wants to fail again. I was very impressed what she said and through a deep interview with her, looked through her life so far and understand her.

She was born in Wonju in Gangwon Province. Her father was a high school teacher and her mother was a housewife. She grew up as a member of middle-class family. She said her childhood was quite happy with her younger brother. As they were living in a house with a little garden, her and her brother used to play there jumping and running.

She moved to Taebaek near Wonju when she was an elementary school student. As her father was a schoolteacher, her family had to move when he was transferred to another school. She said she hadn't liked this very much because she had to adapt herself to a brand new life. She had to make new friends, find new places to play, familiarize herself with the new neighborhood. "Maybe that's why I naturally started to develop some skills to get familiar with the people," She confessed later. First she lived in a small house, but later, as she entered the middle school and her father was transferred to the same school, family moved to an official residence near the school. She said life in Taebaek was not very exciting. As Taebaek was a very small and underdeveloped city, she didn't find much to enjoy as a teenage girl. And she didn't like the house, and the situation that she and her father was in the same school. She said she was so astonished when a big snake appeared in the veranda of her house. She called her mother and she, as astonished as her, immediately called the 119. From that day, she never entered the veranda except when she unevitably had to. But she didn't like the house anyway. And she didn't like her father being a teacher of her school because almost everybody in school knew her. Her father was teaching second and third year and every time she was going back her house, she heard some students yelling at the window, "Look! There goes his daughter!" And then some curious students come to the window and impishly waved their hands to attract her attention. She was so tired at it that one day she bent her body and slowly walk so that she wouldn't be discovered. "At least it was lucky he didn't teach me," she said.

She was fairly good at study that she almost always took 1st place in her class. What she was especially good at was English. She always got top score in English. There was an interesting story. It was her first English class after having entered the middle school. The new English teacher, as the English teachers in Korea usually do, let the students read the textbook. She called her name and told her to read the book in English. She started to read. Usually English teachers in Korea, especially if they're quite old, their pronunciation is not very good. And students who are quite interested in English and, do a good job in English, are also good at pronunciation. That was what made the students laugh. It was so obvious that the teacher's pronunciation was bad and my friend's pronunciation was comparably good, which was so funny if you think about their position. The teacher also realized why the whole class were laughing, and her face started to turn red. "That's enough. You can sit down." However, she somehow tried to keep her dignity as a teacher. She didn't say anything to her but she confessed later that she had to suffer from bad-tempered, deliberate hard works from her.

She moved to Chuncheon, which is also located in Ganwon Province, at the end of seventeen; Because her father was transferred to Chuncheon Vocational High School. She transferred to Chuncheon Girl's High School, which was the top among all of the girl's high schools in Chuncheon. "That was quite a pressure to me. Although I have gotten good grades since then, it was starting to fall." She met the vice-principal and was briefly tested if she could enter the school. After having looked through her report card, he said "You're not very good at math." She was very hurt by what he said. Her math grade was relatively low compared to other subjects but it was, at least from her point of view, not very bad. "I thought this was going to be tough and, that was right." There were lot of smart students and it was quite difficult for her to catch up. Her grades went down and down, and she was scolded by her parents.

She entered the Department of Home Economics and Education in Kangwon National University. She didn't want to major it but her parents wanted her to be a teacher. "It was ironic that I, who got so poor grade in Home Economics, was now majoring in it in college. I never loved my major." In her freshman year, she somehow managed to go to school though. Despite the fact that it was not something she really wanted to do, she was excited about a brand new college life just like other freshmen. She didn't really care about the grade. She often cut classes and failed the exams. And she wasn't very enthusiastic about her major because she hated it. She just spent the days as time goes by, working part-time and going out with guys. She didn't really think much about her life since then. But as she became a sophomore, a question arose to her: Am I doing right? She started to think about her career and her dream. And what she concluded was that her major couldn't help her. So she decided to change her major. She tried hard to recover her grade and newly get a good grade on other subjects. As she was studying hard, she even got a tuition from her department. "I felt sorry that I would soon move to other department but I wanted to receive it anyway." She then applied to changing major and she finally move do the department of English and English Literature. "It felt like that was my first triumph," she said proudly.

She was happy that she could study English and English Literature instead of Home Economics. She liked English and everything was so fun and exciting. She neither cut classes nor failed in exams as she did before. She was enthusiastic, because it was what she wanted to study and major in. As she studied English literature, she got interested in literature. "It was quite surprising. I never enjoyed reading before. What I had read so far was just a few self-help books." She said she realized the greatness of poem and novels as she read a lot of them. She was comforted by them when she lost her way and felt lonely and isolated and hurt. And she felt like she write one by herself. She wrote her first unofficial novel, "The Letter B" and starting from that, wrote a few novels and essays and freewritings. "I started to enjoy writing. And that was a big change for me." As she got more interested in literature, she decided to write about English poets on her graduation thesis and are working on it now. "I don't want it to be a normal 'graduation thesis'. I want to put all my enthusiasm about literature, especially poems, in it so that I could proudly call it a 'masterpiece'." She is now a senior and she wants to be a writer. 

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