We were foreigners in S. Korea. I was teaching at a small university. I had planned for my daughter to attend the university, but when it came time for her to apply the response way, “Sorry, we don’t accept anyone who has been homeschooled.” I had homeschooled her the first year I went to Korea because she couldn’t speak Korean, and the university didn’t pay me enough to send her to an international school. There was an online high school from America, but they said she wasn’t old enough and had to wait until next year. I got books made for homeschoolers, and I took care of it. After all, I am a teacher. I could do easily because I knew exactly what I was doing. I didn’t know it would cause trouble.
After that, I enrolled my daughter in the online high school from America, and I sent her to Seoul National University’s language school, a Korean Ivy League university. She went all the way through the program and got to a level 6 in Korean. She only needed a level 3 to attend my university, but she was bright and had accomplished a lot!
However, we ran into a snag again. The online high school decided they didn’t want to send courses to Korea any more, so we were without a school again. My oldest son was still living in America, so I sent her to live with him. He enrolled her in a GED high school. She went to class everyday, and when her classes were finished, she took the GED test to show she had graduated, then she came back to Korea to be with me.
When she applied to the university, they turned her down because of her GED and that one year of homeschooling. The told me it was illegal for them to accept her. The head of the university’s board and the president of the university were friends of mine, so I talked to them both. The president didn’t know what to do. The head of the board thought I should fight it. He actually gave me the address of the president of S. Korea telling me to write to her and tell her what was happening and ask her to change the law. I thought he was crazy because I figured if I sent her a letter, it would get lost in the shuffle, and she would never read it. Who was I, but one insignificant foreign university professor. However, he insisted. The president of the university said to me, “It couldn’t hurt.”
I took the address, wrote a letter, presented my case, and never expected to hear anything back. I just went through the motions thinking it would do no good.
We had a place called “the English Café” at the university. It was a place where all the students who studied English could go to hang out. They could study, use the computers, go to sleep on the couches, or meet their friends. They spent a lot of time there between classes. There was no food or drinks served, but they could bring their cans of pop and their snacks or lunch if they wanted. I used to go there and play English games with them, and you had to walk through the English secretary’s office to get into the café. I went to the café to play games with the students as usual.
On my way through the English secretary’s office, the English secretary stopped me. She was so excited! She told me the president of S. Korea had called her office looking for me! What?! The students heard, and they were all excited! She had told her to call back and told her when I would be there. The phone rang again, and it was the president asking to talk to me! All the students gathered around me. We were all in shock! The president wanted to know why I hadn’t sent my phone number in the letter. She said she had had to track me down to talk to me. She wanted me to know it was not illegal for my daughter to go to school in S. Korea, and that someone was lying to me. She told me to go back to the office and tell them she said it was not illegal, and they had to give me a better answer. After that, she wanted me to call her back the next Monday and tell her what happened. In the meantime, they were going to be having meetings in the Blue House about my daughter. The Blue House is S. Korea’s White House. I agreed to do what she told me to do. I hung up the phone stupefied! The students were so excited!
I did what she told me to do. I learned that it wasn’t illegal. However, the university was scared. That is why they wouldn’t accept my daughter. They were part of a league of universities that gave them accreditation, and to remain part of that league, that they had to follow the rules of that league. The rules said they couldn’t accept students who had been homeschooled. Many small universities in Korea were going under, and they didn’t want to do anything to rock the boat. They were afraid accepting a foreigner who had been homeschooled and had a GED certificate for graduation would hurt their accreditation. There wasn’t much more I could do, and my daughter would have to go to school elsewhere. I had counted on her getting the scholarship that university professor’s kids get, but I couldn’t give it to her. I called the president back and thanked her and explained what they said. She said she just wanted me to know that it was not illegal for my daughter to go to the university in S. Korea.
After that, if I ever told any one in S. Korea that their president had called me, they were really skeptical. One said, “You must realize how this sounds to us. Do you think the president of the United States would call any of us?” No, I didn’t think he would, and I didn’t think she would either, but she did!