My name is Andrea Escobedo and from the months of February to April of 2017, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR).
Being a recent graduate with a Master’s in International Relations, I had been looking for an opportunity that would lead me to challenge myself all the while allowing me to contribute – in whatever way possible – to a cause as important as that of North Korean Human Rights. When I received the NKHR’s acceptance letter, then, I packed my bag full of hope and motivation and left for Seoul. I could never have imagined how much I would learn and grow during my short time with the NGO.
As an intern with the Advocacy and Campaigns Team, I was led to carry out many interesting tasks so as to help raise awareness and shed light on the Human Rights situation in North Korea. I also had the opportunity of joining the NKHR’s Rescue Fund – an incredibly dynamic team made up of amazing individuals devoted to the rescuing of North Korean refugees – where I was able to help organize the NKHR’s Annual Fundraiser for Refugee Rescues. Both of my roles as Intern and Volunteer motivated me greatly and I remain extremely grateful to my bosses and fellow volunteers for all that they taught me in the process.
While both of the aforementioned opportunities were incredibly fulfilling, I believe that the experience that taught me and helped me grow the most was tutoring North Korean students. I had had experience with tutoring students in English before, but this was a completely different situation.
Having little to no knowledge of the Korean language, I was worried that I would have to find new ways to make the students feel comfortable and keep them engaged (thank you for the confidence boost, Google Translate!). I found out, however, that the students had an amazing drive to learn and that, in their earnest will to make their dreams come true, they were willing to work extremely hard. I truly believe that I learnt more from them than what I could ever have taught them. They showed me that your age, past or present situations and circumstances do not and cannot entirely define your capacity to dream and to chase after those dreams. I will never forget when, during one conversation with one particularly bright student, I asked him what he wanted to do later on in life. Flashing a huge grin at me, he said: “a Diplomat”. Sharing the same dream as him, I can only hope that he will find success, in whatever way that should come.
In short, my time at the NKHR allowed me to meet incredible humans – both those arduously at work to make this world a better place, and those seeking to chase after their dreams. I hope that this step in my young professional career will always remain with me as a reminder of all the great change that motivation and dedication to important causes can bring.
We are a group of volunteers fundraising for NKHR (Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights) to rescue