Friend #50: Eunjae

I’ve realized that I should put dates on when these visits happened because people are getting confused.  I’m still blogging about Sunday, July 10th, when I saw Carly, Melissa, Marshall, and (this post) Eunjae.  I have been back in Los Angeles for a week now (more on that in an upcoming post).

As my time in Chicago came to a close, I visited with my 50th friend!  It definitely seems like a milestone.  What a treat for that 50th visit to be with Eunjae.  She is the first former tutoring student I’ve seen on the trip.  I’ve tutored for two different companies.  One company involved almost entirely Korean students, of which Eunjae was one.  She’d been in the states for 4 years living with her sister, while her folks were back in Korea.  I sat with Eunjae a couple times a week to work on test prep, for the SATs and ACTs.  Eunjae was still learning English, so she struggled with reading, but excelled at math and science.  But her true passion was in art and fashion.  She tried to integrate it into everything she did.  I helped her with an extensive research project for English class on Marc Jacobs.

I often say with my tutoring gigs that I’m in the business of bright and shiny futures.  Just yesterday (August 16th in LA), I was tutoring a student whose older brother I also tutored.  The older brother heads off on Saturday to his #1 choice school.  Eunjae wound up at the Art Institute of Chicago, which is a perfect spot for her.  Unfortunately, it’s also very expensive, and she may not be able to continue next year.  I’ve heard of this dilemma from several students.  And I’ve seen the ramifications of massive student loans among my friends once schooling is finished.  And I don’t know what the solution is.  But I do know that Eunjae is bright and talented and I want every possible opportunity for her.

Here’s just a glimpse at some of Eunjae’s aspiring talent:

Eunjae's Self Portrait

I thought it was so apt for my trip that she also had done a portrait of Mark Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg

Eunjae has such a sweet and hospitable spirit.  She made dinner for us–she even made a Korean dish that she remembered was my favorite.  I don’t always connect with my students, but from the beginning, Eunjae and I had a special bond.  One Saturday, she and another friend (the administrative assistant at the tutoring company) and I went to the Fashion District in LA, a neighborhood in the south part of downtown with block after block of fabric and knock-off designer hand bags.  Eunjae wore a jumper that she’d made out of an old blouse.  I ended up getting a funky silver ring that I wear often.  And as we walked, she shared some of her creative ideas with me.  And it’s great to see some of those ideas becoming reality now.  Whether or not she continues at the Art Institute, she will definitely have a bright and shiny future.



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