I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Elaine Kim. She has given me the opportunity to first construct and, then, instruct a class over the past four semesters. She has been both a faculty sponsor and my mentor for the Breaking Down Borders: Korea DeCal that has been offered over the past four semesters.
On a personal level, I am of the sincere belief that nothing helps an individual more than trying to teach or explain a set of ideas to another person. I highly doubt that had I not had the opportunity to engage in this DeCal that I would not currently be able to formalize some of the arguments or points that I can make about Korea in general -- they would still be ideas floating around in my head with no consistent theme or sentence tying them together.
On a more personal level, several years ago I was a high school dropout and having been sent to live in remote Korea I came across a book that I instantly fell in love with -- Korea's Place in the Sun. I find it absolutely remarkable that I would come to teach a course based largely around this book just a few years later and under the faculty sponsorship of Professor Elaine Kim, whose experiences I read directly in the chapter Professor Bruce Cumings devotes to the Korean-American experience.
More so, as a student that is highly enthusiastic about what is going on in that part of the world, I believe it has also given other students an opportunity to learn more about Korea. In the past four semesters, there have been about a hundred twenty students that I believe would not have had the opportunity to pick up a couple units and come to hear some of the things they did. I believe for many, its the last exposure they will have to Korea at school and, which should be of particular importance to residents of California, where I believe this year's census will show that there will probably be about two million ethnic-Koreans in the United States with a million in California. I believe this has been the ultimate objective of this course as the student facilitator/student instructor (I'm sure the DeCal will take on a direction of its own).
I believe any student that has taken this class will have the foundation and tools to be able to discuss North Korea to the point where they can look at an editorial in a newspaper and wonder, if journalists sometimes just run out of things to write about?
Note: it helps a great deal that there's not that much known about North Korea. As mentioned in class, most of what was known and written about Kim Jong Il's three children were taken directly from the book by Japanese chef that used to cook for Kim Jong Il. This was in English, Korean, Japanese, etc etc ... Of course, we could just go directly to the source and cut-out all the misinformation...