with instructor Jaerang Lee
By Therese Eley, Marketing Services
For Jaerang Lee, Continuing Studies at UVic is like a home. "It's the first place, when I came to Canada, that welcomed me. And it was that experience that drew me back to Canada."
Jaerang now teaches Korean language courses at Continuing Studies, but not too long ago, her life was on a very different path.
In Korea, Jaerang was an elementary school teacher and young mom. But with the breakdown of her marriage and the death of her mother, Jaerang found herself working hard to build a new life for herself and her young daughter, while dreaming of something more.
Jaerang recalls her daughter, aged eight or nine at the time, saying to her, "You are a flower. You need to enjoy your life before you fade away. I am just a sprout—I have lots of time." That made her question how she was living her life, so she made a decision.
"I decided to come to Canada, to Victoria, to study English for a year. I brought my daughter with me so together we could see a different part of the world and how people think differently, with a different world view."
She studied at the English Language Centre at Continuing Studies, and was so inspired by her experience that she decided to pursue her masters in leadership studies with UVic’s Faculty of Education.
Shortly after finishing her degree, she met Didier Bergeret who was the program coordinator for the language programs at Continuing Studies. She later approached him about the possibility of teaching Korean courses, which had not been offered at that point. He decided to give her a chance and she is now in her third year of teaching, and really enjoying it.
"More people are becoming interested in Korean language and culture because of media exposure. They genuinely want to learn more about Korean history and culture, not just pop culture. They're seeking the subtleties of the language and culture and it challenges me to become a better resource for them. I learn more about Korea because of teaching this course."
While she’s always thought of herself as open-minded, reflecting on her life experiences, she sees how it all comes down to perspectives. “I was watching a video about how westerners versus Asians see things differently. I think everyone should learn to see things from another perspective. For instance, when looking at a painting, there is perspective, the closer things are in front and further things are behind. But there are paintings that flip that perspective around. If you can see things from others’ perspectives, not just your own, it gives you more understanding, more compassion. It makes you more generous.”
Today, Jaerang is happily remarried and enjoys giving back by volunteering her time to help refugees and Korean immigrants integrate into the community.
- Posted Nov. 27, 2018