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  • A Circle of Giving
    A Circle of Giving

Mingu Lee: International Goals

March 30, 2015

For Mingu Lee, an international student from South Korea, studying at Angelo State gets him one step closer to his career aspirations of working for UNICEF, the international children’s rights and emergency relief organization.

His dreams took shape during two life-changing experiences in Kenya and Thailand, where he volunteered with children and helped in their communities. Those trips helped him realize his passion for connecting with others and his drive to help those in need.

Three years ago, Lee was a student at Inha University in South Korea when he felt the need to broaden his horizons. He had the option of studying English abroad or volunteering in a developing country, and he struggled before deciding to volunteer.

“I really wanted to do both, but then I thought that doing volunteer work has much more value, so I decided to go to Kenya,” Lee said.

Lee spent a year in Nairobi doing mission work teaching Korean and taekwondo to children. He also volunteered for three weeks in Thailand with high school, middle school and elementary school students.

“Studying at Angelo State University has given me the chance to take many communication classes. I learned how to communicate with people taking into consideration their different cultural backgrounds, and I am sure that this will help me to enter a diverse organization like UNICEF.”

Mingu Lee

“These experiences changed my life and my plans for the future,” Lee said. “Before, I wanted to be a TV producer, but after going there I realized that communicating with people is what makes me really happy.”

His volunteer experiences also highlighted his need to learn English.

“When I first arrived in Kenya, I didn’t speak any English and it was really hard to communicate,” Lee said. “But after I started speaking English, I also started communicating. I found that if I share my heart, they will also share their hearts and it really made me happy.”

One day, Lee visited a university in Kenya and a group of students started asking him about South Korea.

“They were asking me about the relationship between North and South Korea and the position of South Korea in Asia,” he said. “I didn’t answer very well, and the problem was not English. It was that my knowledge of South Korea and the world was not enough.”

That experience inspired Lee to add political science as his second major when he returned to Inha University.

“I would love to be a professor one day, but my dream job is working for UNICEF,” Lee said. “I met so many children in Kenya and Thailand and they were so pure and full of dreams but the economic conditions of their countries didn’t give them the chance to achieve their objectives or fulfill their dreams. That is why I want to help them.”

After identifying his career aspirations, Lee started working toward his goal. Studying at ASU is one milestone in his path.

“I chose to study at Angelo State because I wanted to improve my English, but at the beginning I was disappointed with myself,” Lee said. “Even though I spent one year in Kenya speaking English, I could understand less than 50 percent, and even ordinary conversations were hard for me.”

Lee struggled at the beginning of his experience at ASU, but he thinks people have to overcome challenges to achieve something good in their lives. To meet his own challenges, Lee got involved in several extracurricular activities and pushed himself to excel.

Lee is an intern at the Center for International Studies, where he works with students at ASU’s English Language Learning Institute and helps organize activities for the Ulive/ELLI Conversation Partners.

“I like doing this because it gives me the possibility to help them meet American students and improve their English skills,” Lee said.

Lee is also a member of the Korean Students Association. He is in charge of the Korean tutoring program and of organizing events and activities that bring together Korean students with American and other international students.

During the fall semester Lee was also a contributing writer for the Ram Page, ASU’s student newspaper. He wrote sports articles about the Rambelles NCAA soccer games.

Soccer is another great passion for Lee. Through an intramural co-rec soccer team at ASU he met numerous friends from the Association of Mexican-American Students (AMAS). Together, their team won the UREC intramural soccer tournament.

“I have been playing soccer for 17 years but I have never won anything,” Lee said. “I can say that winning the championship with my AMAS friends was one of the happiest moments from my experience at ASU.”

Beyond improving his English skills and participating in extracurricular activities, Lee has also benefitted from his academic coursework at ASU.

“The academic program I am following at Inha University focuses more on mass media, so studying at Angelo State University has given me the chance to take many communication classes,” Lee said. “I learned how to communicate with people taking into consideration their different cultural backgrounds, and I am sure that this will help me to enter a diverse organization like UNICEF.”

Lee will go back to South Korea at the end of the spring semester, and he graduates from Inha University in February 2016.

After that, Lee plans to get a master’s degree in communication at a university in the United States. To be admitted to graduate school, he needs to learn a third language. To prepare, he started taking Spanish classes this semester.  

“There are a lot of people who speak Spanish here, so I try to speak in Spanish with them as much as I can,” Lee said. “The problem is that I mostly cannot understand what they say, but I am happy anyway because at least I get to practice my language skills.”

Lee plans on getting a master’s degree because he needs to get more specialization in his field.

“Even considering the fact that a graduate degree is mandatory to work for an organization like UNICEF,” Lee said, “I feel that I need to broaden my knowledge as much as I can to do my best in my job.”

  • Martina Dalla Zanna

    Martina Dalla Zanna

    Martina Dalla Zanna is a student intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing at Angelo State University.
    Email Martina at mdallazanna@angelo.edu.

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