Hello, my name is Bryan. I am currently an exchange student in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Hanyang University (HYU). I am originally from Colombia, but immigrated to the United States with my family during my adolescence. Later on, my family and I moved to Canada, where I lived for the last eight years until the start of my exchange program in South Korea. I have been in Seoul since fall of last year and plan on completing a second semester in spring of 2016. At my home university, Concordia University, I am working towards Specialization in Film Studies and a Major in Political Science. I am ultimately looking forward to a career that encompasses both, the fields of visual media communications and international human rights.
Communicating with, understanding and caring for others has always been a passion of mine; therefore, I decided to become actively involved in the South Korean community during the length of my exchange program. Because I was introduced to a variety of languages while growing up(Spanish, English and French) I sympathize with the challenges of exploring diverse cultures other than one’s own. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that my first volunteering experience in South Korea was with the nongovernmental organization Teach North Korean Refugees(TKNR), which provides North Korean refugees with educational tools to improve their English skills and knowledge through a personalized interaction with English speakers. Beyond the fact that TNKR assists North Korean defectors to learn English for their own settlement and integration into South Korean society, I must admit that it enhances a volunteer experience that is most gratifying to me by lending a helping hand.
Besides being a volunteer English teacher at TNKR, I also reached out to Hanyang University’s Sexual Minority Human Rights Committee(HSMHRC) in support of their fight against discrimination and prejudice towards underrepresented sexual minority groups in South Korea. HSMHRC offers students a great opportunity to be an integral part of the decision-making processes to raise awareness, eliminate oppression and influence student affair policy for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. Volunteering my personal services to these particular entities has been challenging but rewarding, noting that I do not speak Korean fluently and the language obstacle must be overcome; whether it is to effectively communicate with the students I educate or the committee members I cooperate with.
Despite the difficulties or concerns, this trip, studying abroad in South Korea, has been the fulfillment of a dream. The opportunity to live in a new foreign country as well as travel around a continent rich in divergent cultures has introduced me to ideas, concepts, places and people that help me grow on academic, professional, and personal levels. Due to this, I have been able to discover new experiences that I otherwise would not have encountered anytime soon. Furthermore, I had been waiting for an opportunity where I could get involved and stimulate social change. Although in the initiatives of TNKR and HSMHRC there is a long way to go, I am glad to be contributing to the best of my ability and cannot wait to see how the next semester at Hanyang University will help further present and future career and personal goals of mine.