The first time I walked into the Korea Herald newsroom, I thought to myself: This is it. As I witnessed reporters and editors typing away or hustling around with clutched papers, I was reminded that this was no longer a classroom, and I was no longer just a student, but rather an intern reporter at a large English daily newspaper in Seoul. Before starting work in early July, I knew on a general level that I would mainly be writing stories. But the actual writing process, which involved interviewing, traveling to events, transcribing quotes, drafting, and multiple rounds of editing, took time to grasp. Through practice, I believe I was able to improve my journalistic writing and ability to communicate in a concise, interesting style. I also benefited from experiencing the daily demands of work life: communicating with superiors, commuting by public transportation, and gritting my teeth through slow hours. Yet, this was exactly what I had hoped for—to get out of the classroom and experience a small taste of what “real life” might be like. Looking back at my time as an intern, I discovered that I now have a greater interest and appreciation for journalism, particularly writing stories on individual people or unique groups of people. I want to be involved in work that utilizes the power of language for good and work in which I understand how my efforts can benefit people.
Coming to Korea, I was very anxious about my life outside of work. I was concerned about being lonely in a foreign country and stressed about the best way to make the most out of my time in a place I had only dreamed of visiting. Looking back at my summer, I can say that all of these fears coming into this trip were miraculously taken care of. The biggest part of my local experience in Korea was meeting a church in the Hongdae area the first week I arrived. Over the weeks, I spent more and more time with the community members, who welcomed me so warmly. Through them, I was able to experience the surrounding area along with native Koreans, like exploring the N Tower at night, eating patbingsu in Insadong, and driving down to the pastor’s house in Gimpo. In the end, I was sad to leave the friends who had shown me such kindness.
Turning my eyes towards the upcoming semester, I realize that my experience has left a long-standing impact on how I plan to approach my last two years at Harvard. As someone who feels like they still haven’t found their place on campus, I want to reframe my mindset for community. Instead of acting the consumer, always asking how I can benefit from others, I want to be forward with showing kindness, just as one community in Korea did to me. Additionally, I have gained more clarity about a future career, and would like a career that allows me to empower people, for example, by reporting on their stories. Admittedly, these thoughts are still foggy. As I live through my last two years at Harvard, I want to keep exposing myself to classes and ideas that will clarify the uncertainty I feel about my future. Meanwhile, my interest in the Korean peninsula, the language, and the social and political challenges it faces remains strong. I plan to continue taking courses on Korea in the future.
Finally, I would like to express my extreme gratitude to Mr. Ledecky and the International Fellowship Program in Journalism grant. Because of this generosity, I had one of the most life-changing summers I can remember. I saw the inner workings of a newspaper, experienced what daily life was like in Korea, and met friends who I will cherish forever. At the same time, knowing that I had enough money to eat and delight my friends back home with souvenirs was an incredible blessing. As I head into my junior year, I will continue to keep the memory of my summer in Korea close to my heart.