"What are you going to study in Hawaii?”
That's the question I got in the Hawaii short-term program interview. In my answer, I outlined my vague plan for improving my English skills. To be honest, I was not in the worst condition of not knowing how to speak English at all. However, English in Korea is becoming a subject of memorization for finding a job, so I was losing confidence in speaking. I applied for the Hawaii program because I wanted to be comfortable with English without being tied to grammar and sentence structure anymore.
Even though it was midsummer in August, in Hawaii it was warm and cozy rather than hot, and I could feel the coolness of the sea and the moderate wind. I realized why Hawaii is called ‘paradise’. Waikiki Beach which features spectacular fireworks every Friday was a five-minute walk from my dormitory. On weekends, I would take out a cup of coffee from Starbucks and take a walk on the beach, and then I would go straight to the back of the shopping street and eat delicious food. It was like ‘a treasure hunt’ or ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ to chat and drink beer with the crew and to find hidden attractions and restaurants that my teachers and friends had told us about. Hawaii's biggest advantage was that I was given constant opportunities to speak English without being forced to. It was a pleasure and happiness to feel my skills develop in harmony with various experiences.
Also, Hawaii taught me the most important thing. It was ‘relaxation’. I was always in a hurry in Korea. So the relaxing and carefree atmosphere of Hawaii was strange to me at first. But I learned that their leisure comes not from wasting time, but from their consideration of others and their self-satisfaction.
During my four-week stay at IMPAC and UH, the questions I received at the interview continued to haunt me. IMPAC gave me a final assignment with a free topic. Everyone was thinking about the topic. I was always interested in history, and I found that the history of the last royal dynasty before Hawaii was incorporated as an American territory was similar to that of the Joseon Dynasty. My homeroom teacher, Tiare, recommended the ‘Iolani Palace’ and a few museums, and she also helped me with modifying and adding my essay. I had to constantly exchange opinions with her, which naturally led me to express English with more depth and fluency.
I’d like to give my gratitude to Kumu and Tiare, my local teachers who gave me the beautiful Hawaiian name of 'ALOHA' and taught Hawaiian culture extensively as well as English. I think my stay in Hawaii was a journey to find answers to interview questions for myself. Thanks to all the friends and teachers who took me on the trip, I think my time in Hawaii will always be memorable and colorful even long after.
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Chae Eun Hyun
Dept. Media Communication