The former microlight Toni Corso is changing lives on the other side of the world
Posted on February 24, 2022
Toni Corso’s students showed off their English skills by writing happy birthday messages to her on the classroom blackboard. Corso teaches English to middle school students in Daejeon, South Korea. The 2020 ULM graduate has a degree in political science and was a student in the Honors Program. She is from Belle Chasse.
The University of Louisiana Monroe changed Toni Corso’s life.
Today, she is changing lives halfway around the world in Daejeon, South Korea.
Corso, an Honors Program student and graduate in political science from ULM (2020), teaches English as a second language in two colleges in Daejeon.
In addition to the traditional hours of classroom instruction, this spirited young woman has taken on a humanitarian role in Korea as “a volunteer for a non-profit organization that helps rescue North Korean defectors and gives them the resources to adapt to their new life of freedom”. ”
Louisiana Monroe University alumnus Toni Corso wears traditional Korean dress (hanbok) while visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea. Corso lives in Daejeon and teaches English at two colleges and volunteers with an organization that helps defectors from North Korea. The 2020 ULM graduate has a degree in political science and was a student in the Honors Program. She is from Belle Chasse.
from southern Louisiana to South Korea
As a teenager in Belle Chasse in the parish of Plaquemines, Corso fell in love with Korean, learning to write the Hangul system (like the English alphabet) with 24 basic letters and 27 complex letters, and speaking and reading the Asian language of ballast.
While at ULM, she took the opportunity to study abroad in her fall semester as an exchange student at National Hanbat University in Daejeon. Since 2012, ULM and Hanbat have had an exchange program.
“After discovering the beauty of the culture and traditions there, I immediately knew that I had to go back there as soon as possible. I know this is where I am meant to be in this current chapter of my life. “, said Corso.
Corso said ULM prepared her for the exchange program by giving her “all the tools to prepare for this life-changing new opportunity and ambition to build a more global perspective on life. And , because I want to work with the Seoul Embassy in the future, my political science classes have definitely given me more knowledge to do so as well.”
Corso credited two professors for providing him with the instruction and knowledge necessary for his trip to South Korea, Joshua Stockley, Ph.D., professor and director of political science and the honors program, and Leigh Hersey, Ph.D. , assistant professor and coordinator. of political science.
“Toni exemplifies how pursuing an honors and political science degree from ULM is not just a theoretical exercise, but rather a practical exercise with the power to bring about positive change in the world. I am very proud of Toni and the difference she has made, is making now and will continue to make in the future,” Stockley said.
“They helped me not only to continue my studies in political science, but also by helping me tremendously with my honors thesis on the North Korean regime, which was completed in May 2020,” she said.
“I am so excited that Toni was able to achieve her dream of living and teaching in Korea. She radiates joy and positivity and is sensitive to the needs of others. As a student, she has continuously strived to do her best while encouraging her classmates to do the same,” Hersey said.
Toni Corso enjoys traveling to South Korea.
Language, learning and life
Corso’s knowledge of Korean can sometimes be hampered by some of the nuances of any language, which can lead to puzzled looks from colleagues and students.
“Most of the time, I am able to communicate effectively on basic things with ease. But I admit that sometimes it is quite difficult to participate in some of the more advanced topics in the workplace,” he said. she declared.
Corso loves seeing his students break through to understand and speak their second language.
“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing my students’ progress and growth from day one until their language skills are now,” she said. “The fact that I can help their confidence in English is something I don’t take for granted at all.”
“School life here is definitely much more different. The motivation and work ethic of Korean citizens and students here is unmatched,” she said.
Just as satisfying as teaching, Corso helps people who have fled North Korea and the regime of dictator Kim Jong-un.
“The most rewarding part of my volunteer service is the opportunity to make an impact and spread positivity and cultural knowledge to former North Korean citizens,” Corso said.
People Beyond Politics
Teaching and volunteering gave Corso a unique perspective on the differences between the two Koreas, especially through the eyes of an American.
“I think Americans often forget there’s a whole world out there that offers so much more,” she said.
“I would encourage people to make a greater effort to understand the difference between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). I think there are so many ideas wrong about the two countries and how completely different they are,” she said.
“I also hope that one day people can realize the beautiful and rich culture of North Korea and understand that they are human beings, not just chess pieces in a political discussion about regimes,” he said. Corso added.
For ULM students who are hesitant about career choices, Corso offers simple advice:
“Follow passion over income, hands down. So many times I see my friends stuck in career paths that make them absolutely miserable,” she said.
“One of the most important parts of life’s journey is not just finding out what you want to do, but specifically what you’re not so interested in. I think it’s important to narrow down your passion and your desires that way and keep chasing after any effort,” Corso said.