While many high school seniors anxiously await acceptance letters from the colleges and universities to which they have applied, Cazenovia’s Korean foreign-exchange student Bora Kang can rest easy.
Kang was accepted to Hobart and William Smith Colleges by early decision, in November 2011. Rebecca Arnold, a representative from HWS, visited Cazenovia High School to personally deliver Kang’s acceptance letter. Kang will begin her freshman year in August at the college’s campus in Geneva.
“We’re just really excited about having her. She is an amazing student and she will bring so much diversity to [Hobart and William Smith Colleges],” Arnold said. “We’ll be happy to have her perspective in the classroom and around campus. She will add a lot to the environment.”
Kang was raised in Seoul, South Korea, the second-largest city in the world. Her father is currently studying to become a pastor and her mother is an elementary school teacher. Kang’s brother is presently a sophomore at nearby Colgate University in Hamilton.
Learning that she and her brother would be just a car-drive away from her host family in America was a pleasant surprise, as she could have been placed anywhere in the country.
Kang’s strong work ethic and curiosity first piqued her interest for studying in America when she was 17 years old. She said she would study nightly until 11 p.m., learning of other cultures around the world and especially within the United States.
“I think it helped me discipline myself academically, but I did not have an opportunity to step outside of my own little world, to explore the bigger world. I wanted to really feel and touch a different culture and communicate with different people in a different language,” Kang said. “The hardest thing to adjust in the first year was, and still is, [living in] a small community. Cazenovia is such a small community that everyone knows everyone. It was hard for me to break into a ‘group’ of people to make friends, even though Caz students were very welcoming. I am also quiet, according to what people think, but I talk a lot once I become someone’s close friend.”
Upon arrival in the U.S., Kang was matched with the Theiss family in Cazenovia. Bill and Denise Theiss, of Ridge Road, welcomed her into their home and helped her to assimilate to American culture and life in Cazenovia.
“Bora is a caring, insightful and beautiful young woman. We were thrilled when she was accepted, early decision, at Hobart and William Smith,” Bill and Denise said. “Rebecca Arnold, associate director of admissions for HWS, came to Caz High School to present Bora with a full scholarship in person … Hobart & William Smith has admitted a very engaged and gifted student. Even more importantly, a young woman who knows what she believes, stands by her convictions and always puts others first. Whatever Bora does, she will make a positive difference in this world. We are extremely proud and blessed to have Bora in our lives.”
Transferring credits from her school in Korea proved to be a difficult task, and Kang was charged with completing a heavy course load and multiple regents exams before being able to send out college applications. Kang and the Theiss family were very appreciative of the faculty and staff at Cazenovia High School for helping her adjust and excel academically.
Excited to start the next chapter of her life in America, Kang will look to graduate with the class of 2012 and continue to explore the differences and similarities her two “hometowns” share.
“The biggest difference between living in Korea and America for me, other than culture, food and language, was the lifestyle. In Seoul, I could go to school, [a] friend’s house or shopping by foot. If the place that I want to go is a little bit more far away, then I could take a bus or subway to get there,” Kang said. “Here, I have to ride a car wherever I want to go.”
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 and firstname.lastname@example.org.