This moving and eloquently-written Korean-language essay was written by Dr. Geun Soon Kim Lee, one of the founders and heads of The Korean Language Center of New York and The Korean Heritage School for Adoptees. The essay, which is written in Korean, is titled "한국어와 나 (The Korean Language and I)," and will be featured in a forthcoming edited book that RCKC has been working on about individuals who have worked hard to promote the Korean language and Korean-language education in the United States.
Dr. Geun Soon Kim Lee has a long history with Korean language education. She received a BA in Library Sciences at Yonsei University in Seoul, where she went on to become a lecturer in the Korean Language Institute. She earned a doctorate (Litt. D) in Library Sciences from Ankara University in Turkey in 1975. In 1978, with her husband, Dr. Sungun Lee (who is another extremely important figure in Korean language education), she started teaching Korean in the United States. In 1984, she became Principal of the New York Broadway Korean School, which has since changed its name to the Manhattan Korean School, where she highlighted the importance of conversational Korean. While she was the Principal, the school became very well-known for its outstanding faculty and emphasis on teaching methods and pedagogy. She and her husband, Dr. Sungun Lee, are the founders and heads of The Korean Language Center of New York and The Korean Heritage School for Adoptees. Additionally, she is President of the Northeast Chapter of the National Association for Korean Schools, Vice President of the National Association for Korean Schools, and is a former instructor of East Asian Studies at New York University.
Below is a short excerpt from her essay:
새 학기를 시작하는 첫날 7명의 학생들이 둘러 앉아 인사를 나누며 자기 소개를 한다. 이 교육원은 뉴욕 맨해튼 32가 Korea Town에 있다. 한국어를 처음 배우는 학생들이어서 아래의 대화는 물론 영어로 오고 간 말이다. “제임스 씨는 왜 한국어를 배우려고 해요?” 키가 아주 크고 머리가 노란 30대의 백인 남성이 “ 저는 미국사람인데 제 약혼녀가 한국사람이에요. 한 달 후에 결혼식을 해요. 약혼녀의 부모님이 한국에서 오시는데 영어를 못 하세요. 그래서 제가 한국어를 배워서 대화를 하려고 합니다.” 자기는 회사원이라고 한다. 또 다른 여학생에게 “아끼 씨는 왜 한국말을 배워요?” 라고 하니까, 자기는 일본인 작가이며 한국친구도 많고 한국 드라마를 아주 좋아한단다.