Creating a Home for Everyone

We are Korea international school, and it’s quite difficult to realize the facade of it all.

We are Korea international school, and it’s quite difficult to realize the facade of it all. It wasn’t until later when I tried to understand the situation and draw a conclusion that, with hindsight, I realized our school’s name was misleading.

You enter the cafeteria.

You hang on words from each table, yet rarely understand a line.

Your voice crumbles in as you head upstairs to find a safer place.

You probably realized that our student body has become a lot more than just “Korean” these past few months, with several students joining us from Saudi Arabia.

Having been a part of the student body for many years, I had heard students talk about this change. And it was an inescapable truth that the generally accepted tone towards these “foreign” students was of discontent.

It was back in September I noticed there were new faces to our school, spotting them time to time–in the restroom and at the library. Perhaps Once during lunch, I waited in the HS 4th floor hallway to meet with a teacher, and next to me were two new students staring into their computer screens that spoke in a language I did not understand.

Seeing the impervious divide, I decided to ask new students about their experience so far to gain insight into their lives in KIS.

“We don’t have transitional programs. We’re just expected to know everything when we show up. I think it’s difficult not to feel like a minority.” – Anonymous (’18)

“This is my fourth week at this school, and I’m not sure if I understand what’s going on in class or out of class. But overall, I’m doing fine. I mean, I didn’t really have a choice.” – Anonymous (’17)

“When you don’t speak the same language, it’s hard to ask for help. Because I am not very fluent in English, and I don’t understand Korean at all.” – Anonymous (’20)

“It’s nice here, but it’s not my home.”

It was an epiphany, and this was when I began to digest the problem in our school. One of the reasons students turned their back from these new students was that they had heard the students were rich, anyway. From gossips down, it had been told that these new students were extremely wealthy and that they lived in luxurious hotels in downtown Seoul. I heard assumptions that they were rich as their parents had come allegedly due to a consent.

Regardless of these myths being true or not, after all, as this student had said, they were not home. It is true that we are too immersed in our own lives by the competitive atmosphere circulates through the school in regards to academics or friend groups. And by this, I don’t mean that we should suddenly start offering more opportunities. However, we should realize that it is the indifference that stops us from creating the inclusive community (we long for). I’m saying the effort should come from both parties; I’m not saying that we should take immediate action. Rather, we should strive to understand that it wasn’t their decision to move to Korea.

It’s true that inclusion is a difficult movement to assess.

It’s difficult to see beyond, or rather to make the decision to see beyond what others see. Yet in a community that prides itself on equality and opportunity, shouldn’t we treat more fairly those students most out-of-place?

– Yoo Bin Shin (’18)

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