TCNJ’s Fellowships Office would like to formally congratulate Mi-Yeon Park for receiving national funding. More information on Park’s remarkable “Remember My Name” service project can be found here. Or you can read the article below written by Emily Dodd:
This summer, Mi-Yeon Park returned to South Korea—a country she left when she was only 15 months old—to begin her homegrown human rights mission for refugees from North Korea.
“Growing up, I didn’t really know a lot about North Korea,” says the junior from Ridgefield, New Jersey. “There are general perceptions people have, such as nuclear weapons and the ‘crazy’ Kim leaders, but there is much more than that. There are people experiencing human rights abuses, and that’s what really shocked me.”
In Seoul, Park launched “Remember My Name,” a service project seeking to empower female North Korean refugees through education. With the support of volunteers from humanitarian group Teach North Korean Refugees, the international studies major worked with refugees as they learned to speak English, compose a resume, and practice public speaking. Such skills, she says, will help them become competitive job applicants, future leaders, and perhaps most importantly, determine their place in society.
Momentum for this project began when Park was accepted to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University in Miami, Florida, a three-day meeting in March. She credits the gathering with providing the advice and support she needed to get the project off the ground—and the motivation to ultimately expand “Remember My Name” globally to assist female refugees from around the world.
TCNJ’s Roebling International Travel Award, which subsidized her trip to South Korea, turned out to be the first in her “Triple Crown” of international grants. Over $20,000 in federal scholarships—the combined value of the competitive Boren Scholarship and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship—will fund her yearlong enrollment at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China starting this fall.
There, Park will immerse herself in Chinese language and the country’s relations with the outside world—particularly North Korea.
It was the 2012 US presidential election that sparked her interest in human rights. She says that while the frontrunners’ campaigns may not have explicitly addressed human rights in North Korea, American politics are invariably connected with international concerns.
“I realized that [a country’s] politics affect everyone [in the world],” says Park. “The interests and rights of other people are my interests and rights as well.”
—Emily W. Dodd ’03