Byungho's story: from business bestseller to cultural champion
Byungho Park knows a lot about studying. In his home country of South Korea, he studied for over eight years to pass the notoriously difficult Korean Certified Public Appraiser exam—a test that thousands attempt every year but only a handful successfully pass.
Dedicating himself to his work, Byungho thrived in his career. He eventually authored a regular column for the Maeil Business Newspaper, a top financial publication in Korea, and produced three books on personal finance, one of which remains Korea's third best-selling book of all time.
By all accounts, Byungho's success in business was extraordinary. His life dream, however, was to accomplish something else entirely—and he chose VCC as the place to make it happen.
Growing up in an isolated, mountainous region of Korea, Byungho's imagination was captured by the books of Kim Chansam, a famous geography professor and travel writer. "The world came to me through those pages," he says.
He developed a desire to study geography and cultural anthropology at university and specialize in preserving the world's ethnic minorities. After the early death of his father, however, Byungho says he had to put his family first, and chose a more practical education.
Even after achieving career success, however, Byungho says his desire to study cultures and ethnicities never disappeared. He also knew he needed English to do it.
The missing LINC
And so, in December 2014, Byungho finally left his job and immigrated to Canada, joining his family who was already here. He researched several English as an Additional Language (EAL) programs but chose VCC because of the cultural diversity he saw in the students, staff, and faculty.
Over the past year as he studied in VCC's Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program (LINC), Byungho has visited VCC Learning Centre's English tutors every day of the week for conversation practice, in addition to studying independently for four to five hours per day.
"Byungho is an outstanding learner. After less than a year in the program, he can already participate in conversations on complex topics and ideas. He's well on his way to achieving his goals," says VCC Learning Centre coordinator Emily Simpson.
Alongside his studies, Byungho continues to produce columns for three Korean-language publications. Now, however, instead of business and finance, he researches and writes about things like Canadian literature and First Nations culture and history. He also recently entered CBC's annual Canada Writes poetry contest with an original poem celebrating the special connection he's seen that Canadians have with the natural environment.
No stranger to hard work, Byungho's advice for his fellow English students is to be open-minded, stay positive and never be afraid to ask for help. No matter how successful you are, there's always something new to learn.
The VCC Learning Centre’s offers free tutoring to support students academically and with career transitions. To learn more about the Learning Centre visit www.vcc.ca/tlc.