“I was happy to hear of a Korean student who wanted to expand this program to Japan. I also heard that a tutor from the US was inspired by this program and wanted to start her own English tutoring program for North Korean defectors living in the US.” - Risa Perea, USA.
Risa Perea is from the USA but her ties with Korea run deep. With her project, “Imagine Your Korean Dream”, Risa connected English tutors volunteers from the USA to Korean youths, both North and South. The tutors and the participants engaged themselves for half a year in conversations to share culture, beliefs and history all while learning English. Risa is a GPW Leadership Academy (GPWLA) graduate.
Read about Risa’s GPWLA journey here: https://www.globalpeacewomen.org/stories/planting-seeds-risa-pereas-gpwla-leadership-journey In 2015, Risa developed keen interest in Korean reunification after she participated in the 1K Campaign and read the “Korean Dream:A Vision for Unified Korea” by Dr. Hyun Jin Moon. Since then, Risa has been an active advocate for reunification of the Korean Peninsula and has been helping Korean youths to learn English. The project is a result of her passion to help the Korean community.
Risa’s project used an interactive participatory approach to learning English where she connected Korean youths with English tutors. The tutors also met regularly to share their experiences and methods used to conduct the sessions. Risa’s project not only linked people across the world but also helped foster intercultural understanding and harmony.
A tutor from Claremont, CA said that the project helped to “compare and contrast” the American culture as well as the North and South Korean culture. The tutor said, “My student is from North Korea…I was surprised in the folk song lesson because my student learned about “simcheongga” in North Korea. If you think about it, before the division happened, it was all Korean folk songs, not North and South.”
The program was also followed by a webinar in June with Action for Korea United USA and LiNK in UCLA which featured story sharing of a North Korean defector followed by QnA.
Risa reflected on her journey and said that she struggled with planning and organizing while considering the time commitment of the tutors. She also recalled an instance where a participant withdrew due to the disappearance of the tutor. Nonetheless, the participant is still in contact and is supportive towards the program.
Despite the challenges, Risa successfully completed her project and it enhanced her leadership capacity. Risa had stated that “a good leader should guide many people towards the same goal and also be able to inspire even more efforts towards that goal” and by her own words she has become a true leader. She has not only expanded her dream but has also inspired others to follow suit.
Risa shared “I was happy to hear of a Korean student who wanted to expand this program to Japan. I also heard that a tutor from the US was inspired by this program and wanted to start her own English tutoring program for North Korean defectors living in the US.”
Risa has truly created a ripple effect impact from her projects and GPW is proud to accompany her in her journey to success. From 2015 to 2022, Risa has come a long way and GPW has watched her grow and thrive in her pursuits. Her story, motivation and drive have always inspired us and others. We are gratified to host service minded women leaders like Risa Perea through the GPWA and the GWD grant. GPWLA is GPW’s flagship leadership development program for young service minded women across the globe. The GWD grant is given to women from across countries to develop their leadership skills and give wings to their initiatives and dreams.