As a little girl growing up in South Korea, Jooyeon, endearingly called “Juniper” at Oldfields, knew education was highly valued in her culture. Her family was able to select an academically strong elementary school, but her middle school experience did not live up to expectations and actually deterred Juniper from even attending school. Luckily her parents were able to homeschool her for six months and, unbeknownst to Juniper, made the decision to send her to an American boarding school. They were looking for a school that had small class sizes so Juniper would have more interaction with teachers, a focus on academics along with a caring community, a location with access to international airports and cultural centers, and a school with strong traditions and a rich history. Oldfields was a perfect fit!
Surprisingly, Juniper shares, she was not afraid to study abroad because she had been traveling extensively with her dad since she was a little girl. However, she was nervous about the language barrier and the differences in her culture. “When I first started, everyone was talking to me, which was overwhelming at times, but made me feel welcome. My English steadily improved.” Juniper also experienced a common misconception, “Everyone was assuming I was Chinese or the sibling of a current student. I told two seniors I knew for whom other students had a lot of respect that I was Korean, and they made sure to correct everyone!” After that, Juniper knew she would find her place at Oldfields and says she is never homesick.
Another aspect of an Oldfields education that caused Juniper some trepidation was the requirement to play a sport each trimester, especially when she discovered she would be competing against other schools. This was a brand new, intimidating experience, but thanks to the Oldfields coaches’ encouragement, she learned to “play for fun” and has taken full advantage of our sports program by playing tennis, lacrosse, basketball, and track. Talk about courage!
When asked what she likes about Oldfields, Juniper has a long list, beginning with the perfect class size of ten or less girls. She was surprised how much she enjoyed the boarding school life within a small, close community, which helped her overcome her shyness when she arrived. If you met Juniper today, you would find it hard to believe that this confident, gregarious, young woman was ever shy!
Juniper admits that she disliked some of the activity requirements at first, like sports for two hours a day and May Program (two weeks of experiential learning outside the classroom), but they have now become some of her favorite aspects of her Oldfields experience. But most of all, Juniper says, “I tell people about how welcoming and inviting our community is and how all types of girls feel a part of our community.”
Her family is also happy with the experience Juniper is having. Her mother shares,
“오래된 역사만큼 선생님들의 사랑이 깊고, 넓고 뜻하지 않은 위치 같이 여학생들은 풍부한 감성과 다양한 매력이 있다”
English translation: “The teacher’s love is as deep as the old history and as wide and unforeseen as the place, with girls who have a rich sensibility and various fascinations.”
Juniper has two more years at Oldfields, but shares she has already learned valuable life skills such as how to make friends with diverse people of different ages and cultures, how to build respectful relationships with teachers and ask them for help when needed, and how to manage her time effectively. One of the ways Juniper spends her free time is taking pictures as a part of Oldfields’ Photo Club. We are proud to share that a photograph in this issue of the Winter Magazine was taken by Juniper one snowy morning in January.
We have no doubt Juniper has the courage to continue blazing new trails at Oldfields and beyond!