I am a North Korean who grew up during the great famine of the 1990s. By the age of 13 I saw my father die of starvation, my mother disappear and my sister escape to China to search for food. I did not know what to do, so the first thing I tried was to beg on the street and dig trash cans to find some leftover food. After three years of waiting for my sister’s return I decided to escape North Korea to look for food and my sister. I knew the journey would be risky, but at the time I felt I could either die of starvation or die by gun shots.
While I was hiding in China, I met an NGO that focused in helping North Korean defectors which helped bring me into the United States. While living in the US, I saw a movie called Saving Private Ryan with a memorable quote: “Earn this”, said Captain John H. Miller to Private Ryan, as he lay dying. This quote continues to inspire me. I am doing my very best to earn this life because of all of the suffering I saw earlier. I can’t waste my life. I work and study harder than my peers. Consequently, for the last two years, I made the Dean’s List while also working full-time. As an International Business Major, I hope to go back to China and help North Korean defectors as well as look for my sister.
Each workshop I attend, I learn skills that I cannot learn from text books. Four years of high school and two years of college education in America taught me English to communicate in my daily life, however New York Needs You has taught me professional skills to better navigate my career path, so I can earn my life meaningfully.