High school abroad Mount de Sales student goes overseas for education

jmink@macon.comMay 18, 2013 

Youngwoo Gim, Mount de Sales

  • Midstate graduation schedule

    Bibb County
    Tattnall Square Academy, 7 p.m. Monday, Ingleside Baptist Church
    Windsor Academy, 7 p.m. Tuesday, First Baptist Church of Christ
    Middle Georgia Christian School, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Middle Georgia Christian School
    Woodfield Academy, 7 p.m. Thursday, Mount Zion Baptist Church
    Georgia Academy for the Blind, 11 a.m. Friday, school auditorium
    Howard High School, 3 p.m. Friday, Macon Coliseum
    Central High School, 5 p.m. Friday, Macon Coliseum
    Hutchings Career Center, 7 p.m. Friday, Macon Coliseum
    Central Fellowship Christian Academy, 7 p.m. Friday, high school gym
    Rutland High School, 9 a.m. Saturday, Macon Coliseum
    Northeast High School, noon Saturday, Macon Coliseum
    First Presbyterian Day School, noon Saturday, Ingleside Baptist Church
    Southwest High School, 2 p.m. Saturday, Macon Coliseum
    Westside High School, 4 p.m. Saturday, Macon Coliseum
    Stratford Academy, 5 p.m. Saturday, Macon City Auditorium
    E.L. High School Academy, 5 p.m. June 15, St. Peters Baptist Church

    Bleckley County
    Bleckley County High School, 10 a.m. Saturday, Royal Stadium

    Crawford County
    Crawford County High School, 7 p.m. Thursday, J.B. Hawkins Sports Complex

    Houston County
    Houston County Career Academy, 6 p.m. Friday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Northside High School, 8 p.m. Friday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Warner Robins High School, 9 a.m. Saturday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Veterans High School, noon Saturday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Perry High School, 3 p.m. Saturday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
    Houston County High School, 6 p.m. Saturday, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter

    Jones County
    Jones County High School, 6 p.m. May 31, Centennial Center in Milledgeville

    Monroe County
    Mary Persons High School, 8 p.m. May 31, school football field

    Peach County
    Peach County High School, 8 p.m. May 31, Peach County High School

    Pulaski County
    Hawkinsville High School, 8 p.m. Friday, Hawkinsville High School

    Twiggs County
    Twiggs Academy, 10 a.m. Saturday, school gymnasium

This is not the first place Youngwoo Gim has lived.

It isn’t the first country. It isn’t even the second country. And it’s not the first time she has been on her own.

The Mount de Sales senior, who was born in South Korea, has been an exchange student since middle school.

Her parents wanted their children to experience different cultures, so they sent Gim and her brother to school through an exchange program. In middle school, she traveled to India, lived in a dormitory and, for a while, was homesick.

In India, Gim learned English, though it was in the British tradition. That type of English did not perfectly translate in the United States. When the exchange program sent her to Florida in high school, the most difficult part was adjusting to the language. Now, she is fluent in English, Korean and French. She knows some Hindi and members of her current host family, who are Nigerian, are teaching her their language.

“My freshman year, everybody made fun of my accent,” she said.

But she soon grasped the American dialect and decided to move from Florida. She was looking for a top-notch private school when she discovered Mount de Sales, one of her favorite parts of Macon. She has never been homesick here, she said.

It’s where she has developed close friendships and bonded with teachers. Her favorite class is calculus, because it’s a challenge.

“She will keep trying until she gets it right,” her math teacher, Jeff Dobias, said.

After she graduates, Gim is going back to South Korea temporarily. She will come back to the United States, where she has her pick of top colleges from Boston University to Pennsylvania State University. But she is leaning toward Georgia State University, where she plans to major in hospitality administration. It has been her lifelong dream to own a hotel, ever since she stayed at a hotel as a small child and witnessed the diverse crowd in the lobby.

Gim is intrigued by diversity, and she craves a career that allows her to meet an array of people. In fact, when she came to the United States, Gim was first struck by the melting pot of people.

“There are lots of people here, so many different people,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wow. This is America.’”

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