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Douglas student in Governor's Honors Program adjusts to U.S. customs
by Liz Marino
lmarino@neighbornewspapers.com
June 12, 2013 01:10 PM | 1585 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Liz Marino<br>Governor’s Honors student Sung Soo Alexander, center,  is congratulated by his accelerated math teacher Tonya Haines, left, and Alexander High School Assistant Principal Stephen Beatty.
Staff / Liz Marino
Governor’s Honors student Sung Soo Alexander, center, is congratulated by his accelerated math teacher Tonya Haines, left, and Alexander High School Assistant Principal Stephen Beatty.
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Sung Soo Alexander believes he is living the “American dream.”

The incoming senior at Alexander High School will join 11 other students from Douglas County’s high schools at the 2013 Governor’s Honors Program set for June 23 to July 30 at Valdosta State University.

Sung moved to the U.S. from South Korea four years ago, entering into a foreign culture and speaking no English.

“When I was in eighth grade, ESOL classes helped me a lot,” he said, referring to classes in English as a second language. “It is a good program and helped me with English and grammar.”

Once he began learning the American language and making new friends, the dialect became a lot easier to fathom.

“Talking with American people accelerated my English ability,” he said.

Sung has definitely crossed the language barrier, excelling academically with a 4.0 GPA and an opportunity to study mathematics extensively at Governor’s Honors for four weeks.

He is looking forward to the experience, he said.

“I can’t wait for it,” said Sung. “I think it will be really good experience that I can have.”

Upon moving to the U.S. as an eighth-grader, he had to adjust to the differences between America and South Korea – both educationally and culturally.

“In Korea, everything is very strict,” he said. “The teachers follow the curriculum; there are specific processes that the government requires. I felt suffocated when I was in Korea.”

Sung added, “In America, there is freedom in the education system and teachers can apply different applications in teaching the subject. They are free to teach students.”

Sung has adapted well to his new home. At Alexander High School, he is in a number of clubs and is interested in science, math and computers. For his senior year, he plans to try out for the cross country team.

Being able to participate in physical education and sports is a luxury he enjoys here as opposed to education in South Korea, Sung said.

“Korea just concentrated on educational knowledge,” said Sung, “not on athletic ability.”

What most surprised him about the U.S.?

“The people,” he laughed. “They were just totally different. Everyone looked the same. The guys all looked the same and the girls all looked the same.”

Sung added, “The food is really different, but the difference in culture is really the main surprise.”

He was also surprised at this country’s diversity.

“I had never met anyone from a different culture,” said Sung, “but I’ve gotten adapted to it.”

Sung plans to attend college after high school, and has set his sights on Georgia Tech or Emory University, where he would like to pursue a career in engineering or medicine.

“I am leaning more toward being a doctor,” he explained, “becoming a pediatrician. I enjoy working with kids and taking care of my nieces.”

Sung, who lives in Douglasville with his adopted parents Miles and Chong Alexander, made the choice to move to America because of its educational and career opportunities. He said that many young people in South Korea are unable to attend college because of high tuition rates and lack of scholarship opportunity.

“In America, there is a better chance for success if you work hard,” said Sung. “I made a very good decision to come to America four years ago.”

Other students from Douglas County who will be attending Governor’s Honors Program this summer are:

Alexander High School:

- Savannah Banks, studying visual arts.

Chapel Hill High School:

- Daryl Mitchell, communication arts; and Anthony Picas, architectural design.

Douglas County High School:

- Korey Brown, theatre performance;

- Dana Francisco, communicative arts;

- Katherine Haire, communicative arts,

- Sada Harris, music (brass);

- Nia Kapitanova, Spanish;

- Ugochi Ndolo, French.

Lithia Springs High School:

- Kymble Talps, theatre performance.

New Manchester High School:

- Kaelyn Holmes, theatre performance.

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