Finalizing odyssey of 17 years
About 17 years ago, I first set out on an odyssey to educate my two sons in the United States.
Initially, my decision was met with many objections from my family and friends. But it proved to be a quixotic adventure for me who had nothing but the ambition to give my children the chances I did not have despite my strong desire for them. Since then I have become a Don Quixote figure to my acquaintances because of the outrageous adventure I embarked upon.
Thanks to God, I was able to send each of them to one of the top five prep high schools in the States and after four years in the best educational environment for them, on to a wonderful university for five years and then finally, Harvard Graduate School. Needless to say, all these steps were enabled with the close cooperation of my wife.
A few weeks ago I attended the graduation ceremony of my younger son at Harvard. This was my first such experience and when my son's name was announced for him to receive his award, my wife and me shouted, ``We made It."
They say the digital program he invented for his graduation dissertation was a breakthrough. To be awarded a prize at your Harvard graduation is by no means an ordinary thing.
Concluding the 17-year-long odyssey with my younger son, I am writing this on the iPad my son bought for me while waiting for the flight to take me back home. Now my happiness is beyond words and I feel very proud of having started the long, painstaking, and sometimes despair inducing journey, even though it forced me to become trapped in poverty.
In retrospect, it was an eventful long journey against so many vicissitudes. But all the adversities I had to go through financially as well as physically were nothing but a price I had to pay with pleasure.
Above all, when my wife had to undergo a mastectomy because of cancer and my kidney collapsed, our financial situation was miserable and I was forced to almost give up everything, and would have done so, had it not been for my invincible belief in Heaven and in the path I had chosen. The belief and self-confidence that pulled my wife and me through can be ascribed to the maxim: ``Do your best and abide by the will of Heaven." We did our best, believing in Heaven and Heaven confirmed our direction.
Moreover, despite being absent from their homeland for such a long time, my two sons are more Korean in every aspect than many Koreans. They read Korean best-sellers, especially by Yu Si Hwa, a famous essayist and poet, before I do, even though I live in Korea and always keep up with the latest issues here. Above all, they are always dutiful to, and obliged to their parents for the sacrifices they have made.
Therefore, I never regret my decision and the two million U.S. dollars I had to invest in their futures, less still my health problems.
I am still so strong-willed; I work as much as any ordinary man of 62 and Heaven has rewarded me with enough talent and industry to earn enough income to support my wife and me.
An old saying tells us that to brag about one's children is one of the seven follies. However, the emotion I feel at this moment is too strong to be contained.
In addition I am proud of my parents from whom I inherited my enthusiasm for children's education. They did their best despite experiencing abject poverty to educate their four children in Seoul in the 1950s. I am proud of such a family trait, but much to my regret it is disappearing from our society.
The writer is principal of Polyglot Day School in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.