Summer CSGC Grant Update: Heavenly Dream School: Education for North Korean Youth

This summer, I am working with Heavenly Dream School, an alternate school for North Korean defector youths founded in 2003. The school is located in Seongnam, South Korea, and provides specialized programs and classes for North Korean defectors and prepares them for integration into South Korean society, college life, and jobs.

English, which is integrated deeply into the Korean language and culture, is a valuable skill that opens doors to job opportunities, mass information, and communication with others abroad. Recognizing the value of this skill, Heavenly Dream School has been hosting the English Unification Camp (EUC) annually. EUC is a five day camp in which students from North and South Korea and volunteers from abroad come together to learn about North Korean culture and share our unique experiences. This year (2023) is the first after a four year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Along with this summer camp, Heavenly Dream School invited a group of six college students from the United States to have classes and live in the dorms with the students during the five weeks leading up to EUC and summer break. During this time, I organized and taught a total of 10 Korean classes beginning in mid-June. Along with this, I am holding a focused, one-on-one English class with a student who attends Heavenly Dream School. The main topics are grammar and conversational skills, and these classes will continue throughout the school’s summer break online, with additional students who wish to participate.

I am looking forward to participating in the EUC that takes place this July as a translator. I hope to help enhance a comfortable environment in which participants can share their opinions regardless of the language they speak in. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and look forward to the rest of the summer with the school.

-Ellie ’25