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Empowering Students to Empower Others



When Michael was a kid, he moved to the United States with his family. Watching his father learn a new language and develop relationships at work and in his community made an impression on Michael. He recognized the effort immigrants make to settle a new place. When the family returned to Korea a few years later, Michael had empathy for this country’s foreign workers.

Some ideas arrive in a flash. Most ideas roll around in our minds for a while. Michael thought about his father’s experience and observed foreign workers in Korea and wondered at their shared challenges. In the video below, Michael shares how he helps new arrivals to Korea and KIS through his organization Be Ourselves Korea.


Starting a nonprofit service organization requires insight and support from others. When Michael first thought of teaching Korean and Hangul to foreign teachers at KIS, he met with high school principal Aimmie Kellar to plan the best approach. Edtech director Mark McElroy supported the technology needs of Michael’s first Be Ourselves Korea sessions on KIS campus. Last school year, Michael launched optional language learning sessions. This school year, he offered an introduction to Korean language at staff orientation. 

KIS staff are appreciative of the simple phrases and reading lessons the sessions teach. Michael hopes the sessions provide a positive, interactive language experience that encourages attendees to learn more. 

Michael’s father believes that people can bridge multicultural differences. Michael echoes that sentiment. “I think things will be better if we just be ourselves and connect with each other,” he says.

Looking ahead, Michael is determined to transition Be Ourselves Korea to a new group of students who will continue to teach incoming KIS staff a few essentials of the Korean language. Sustainable service is part of the KIS culture. Michael knows the language learning needs are great. What he hopes is that a few of his younger peers – perhaps shaped by their own immigrant experiences – choose to grow Be Ourselves Korea in the coming years.