KMU Stage Fright


“If I ever have to speak in front of many people again, I will never be nervous, thanks to this experience.”

Hello, everyone. My name is Seo Jin. I major in Chinese and Chinese Literature. I’m going to talk about my challenge, stage fright. Every time I had to give a speech in front of many people, I worried about it too much. Once I started my speech, I froze up and completely forgot what I was going to talk about. I couldn’t speak clearly and my hands shook because I felt so nervous. As my nervousness grew, my speech got worse and worse. Finally, I finished my speech almost crying. After it was over, I always regretted that I didn’t feel more comfortable or have more confidence. I thought it was a big problem, not only at that time, but also for my whole life. That’s why I decided to overcome my challenge, and I started to practice speaking in front of people.

What did I do to overcome my fear of public speaking? First, I started talking with my dolls and the wall. I regarded my dolls as an audience and I talked in front of them. I even talked with the fish in the aquarium. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I really did that. Secondly, I tried to answer the teacher’s questions as much as I could during class. That gave me more confidence.

Now, it’s so much better than before. I can speak in front of people without my hands shaking and I don’t feel nearly as nervous as before. I can’t say that I’ve completely overcome my fear of public speaking, because I still feel nervous sometimes, but I’m on my way. I believe that one day I will be able to speak easily in front of thousands of people.
The End

Teacher’s Comments: The LIFE STORY PROJECT was first conceived during a writing assignment by students at Kookmin University in Seoul, Korea.The stories were eventually given as short 2-3 minute speeches in front of the class.

In my job as a teacher of English conversation at Kookmin University, I was constantly faced with students who were in the process of job interviews and resumes and the daunting task of selling themselves in a very competitive job market. I realized that many of them didn’t really know themselves well, and that finding their stories as Nelson Bolles suggested in his bestselling job-hunting book, “What Color is Your Parachute?” would help them discover their strengths and interests.

The assignment I gave them was to write a story from their life about a time that they 1) wanted to do something, 2) faced an obstacle, and 3) overcame it. In the process, they were reminded of interests and strengths that they have, and the rest of us were inspired to hear their accomplishments. The LIFE STORY PROJECT was born! To submit a story, please keep it brief, include your name, age, and where the story happened, and send it to

Thank you! Robin

GREAT TEACHINGS ~ Korean student speaks about his English teacher


GREAT TEACHINGS, A life story by Yoo Bin Heo 

Hello, everyone. My name is Yoo Bin Heo. I’m a freshman at Kookmin University and my major is Public Administration. I’m really glad to meet all of you in this class. Today, I’d like to talk to you about a very special teacher who meant a lot to me in my life.

 Whenever I think of the teachers I had throughout my school life, I always think of Mr. Yang, my English teacher. I learned a lot from him. Not only knowledge, but I also learned wisdom that is essential to my life.

 I met him when I was a junior in high school. He was my English teacher. He always greeted his students with a sweet smile and a kind word. In every class, he always told us exciting or touching stories.

 I figured that Mr. Yang was a very strong-willed man. His family was really poor when he was young, so his parents couldn’t afford the education fees. However, Mr. Yang, who had a great will to study, worked on a farm delivering cabbages to earn money. He studied and studied to get a scholarship at the college. He said that he studied about 15 hours a day. Finally, he got the scholarship and made it through college. Now, he’s a great teacher and tutor.

 I was a very negative and unwilling person before I met Mr. Yang. Since I was very young, my mother wanted me to try new things and gave me lots of chances to do what I wanted to. However, I never continued or finished anything I began. For instance, I started learning piano when I was in kindergarten. I played until I was in 4th grade in elementary school and then I quit. The reason I quit was because it was getting harder and harder. I was always like this during my school life. When something got harder, I lost interest and gave up.

 However, after I heard Mr. Yang’s story, which was like a drama, I felt I wasn’t trying hard enough. I saw in him the exact example of the proverb, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Before that, I had always been negative about any challenge. I was afraid of failing and I also had no purpose. However, since Mr. Yang, I feel very different than before. Now I know that if I think I can do something, I can do it.

 I sincerely appreciate Mr. Yang for giving me courage by being a great example. I’m glad I was one of his students. Thanks to him, whenever I feel discouraged by my situation or any obstacle, I don’t give up anymore. He taught us great teachings, both academically and spiritually.

Did you ever have a teacher like Mr. Yang in your life, or were you ever strongly impressed by someone close to you? I hope so!


Editor’s Note: After hearing this story, I asked Yoo Bin Heo if he had told his teacher how he felt. When he said no, I suggested he make sure he did. So often the teacher never knows where his precious wisdom has taken root.


This is a very special story written by a very special student at KMU. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture, or even the correct spelling of her name. For now, she is just the girl who didn’t settle for less!

2Hello, everyone. I’m delighted to give a speech in front of my classmates today. The story I would like to share with you is basically about how I ended up being here at Kookmin as a college student. It’s also about the struggles I have been facing for the last decade and what makes me keep fighting to overcome the obstacles that lie around me and also within myself.

I hope that my story will be an encouragement to those of you who might think it’s too late to start something great, or to fix the mistakes you have made in the past.

I’m currently in my junior year, majoring in Industrial Design. Like many of you, I’m just another college student with goals and dreams to succeed in life. One thing very special about me, however, is that I’m 33 years old and I entered this university back in 1995, which was 12 years ago. After finishing my sophomore year in 1997, I decided to take a year off. I wanted to explore a lot of things outside college life. I became very comfortable with my life during that year. I was busy traveling, learning English, and also having several part-time jobs. The problem was that I kept postponing going back to school even after one year had passed. I wanted to stay in my comfort zone.

During that time, I also met and fell in love with a very special guy who is now my husband. Blinded by love, we decided to hurry up and get married. My husband and I have been very blessed to have a strong marriage for the past seven years, yet having to make a living and making ends meet as small business owners kept me from going back to school. I kept telling myself, “Somehow things will be different next year, and I’m going to have a chance to study the things I was once very passionate about.” Like water under a bridge, ten years passed by since I left school with the intention to take only one year off.

Facing the ten-year anniversary of my unfinished dream last winter, I felt like it was now or never. When I finally started to consider going back to school, however, I felt afraid and ashamed. I began to wonder what people around me would think and whether I would be able to follow along with the curriculum. I was even afraid to face all the teachers who might recognize me and wonder why I had come back. Well, this should tell you I’m not an assertive person. Fortunately, with my husband’s support, I finally got the courage to apply for re-entrance into Kookmin University and I was accepted.

Before the first semester began this spring, I paid a visit to the office of our department in order to ask a few question about some classes. I ran into one of the professors who had also been around ten years ago and he recognized me. The first comment that came out of his mouth when he saw me was, “You’ve gotten so fat! What happened?” I simply didn’t know what to say. While I was still standing uneasily in front of him, he continued to speak. “Well, I heard that you were coming back, but why do you need to come back after all these years? I just don’t see the point now that you are married and all.”

Composing myself with a smile, I replied, “I want to and need to study industrial design because I’d like to build my own design company someday.” Then he said, “Are you serious? You should know better. That plan seems very unrealistic to me.” I took it to mean that my goal should be staying at home and being a good housewife. I wish he hadn’t been so insensitive. I was deeply offended but I kept smiling because it was obvious that there was nothing I could do to change his way of thinking.

Deep down in my heart, I knew he was wrong and that I have every right to pursue my dreams regardless of my age or circumstances. I also believe I can be successful if I pour my heart into whatever I do. Strangely, however, his comments lingered in my head and began to drag me down. I felt embarrassed and not good enough to accomplish anything great. Whenever people acted shocked or confused about why I’m here as a college student, I began to regret coming back to school. I started thinking, “Maybe it is too late for me to do this.” Then, I thought to myself, “If I allow people to keep me down, it will only be my loss, not anyone else’s. If I try my best and things don’t work our, then at least I will have no regrets. If I give up, I’ll wonder for the rest of my life what I could and would have accomplished.” After all, you only live once and it’s worth taking a chance to make your dreams come true even when the circumstances are less than perfect.

Obviously, I’m not the smartest person in the world, nor do I have a lot of talents. I was a so-called “college dropout” and I am at least ten years behind people in the same class. It’s been a long time since I last contacted any of my college friends because I used to feel like a loser. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it took a lot of courage for me to be where I am today.

Grabbing hold of one thing at a time, I’m doing better and feeling more comfortable every hour I spend here on this campus. I try to stay focused and do my best in everything I do. If I’m lacking in something, my theory is that I must work twice as hard to succeed. After finishing the very first semester back at school, I was notified that I was the first in my class and I would receive a scholarship as well. As you can imagine, my husband and I were extremely happy that day.

Looking back on the events that made me sad and uncomfortable, I’m glad I didn’t let them persuade me to deviate from my plans. I still have a long way to go in order to make my dreams come true. Should I face similar difficulties later on in my life, I hope that this experience will remind me to keep going. I truly believe all of us are capable of anything as long as we put our heart into our goals and dreams and, more importantly, do not allow others to drag us down, no matter what.

When I finally graduate from Kookmin University, I hope to have gained something even more valuable than a diploma, something I didn’t consider important before. I hope to become a person who is much more courageous, confident, and also compassionate. Courageous enough to do what I believe in, confident enough to stand up for myself, and compassionate enough to put myself in the shoes of others. I’d like to thank you for listening to my speech.

An Unforgettable Experience, by 최준영 ~ The Joy of Speaking English!

Meeting foreigners in Insa-dong

Meeting foreigners in Insa-dong

The following is a report from one of my Kookmin University students in 2008, after completing the scariest assignment I ever gave them. Robin


To be honest with you, I had been worried about the assignment of interviewing foreigners for quite a while. It’s because having a conversation with foreigners is like a big obstacle which seems unconquerable to me. For no special reason, I’m afraid of speaking in English and taking initiative in starting conversation with foreigners. Whenever I imagine myself with a foreigner, I feel like I have butterflies in my stomach, so I braced myself up to start my assignment.

At first I looked around my campus for the interview, only to find no one to talk to. I searched every corner including the students’ cafeteria, dormitory, and everywhere foreign students seem to poke about. However, I ended up finding no one after searching for an hour. I got desperate and decided to go to Insa-dong, which is a big tourist attraction.

As I expected, there were many foreigners there. I was relieved and glad to see them. However, I told myself, “What am I supposed to say to them?” Even though I practiced the questions to open the conversation over and over again, I was at a loss. In fact, I lost lots of chances to talk to them because I thought someone would laugh at me if I speak in English. I was not confident and too shy to open my mouth. One hour passed while I was complicated with lots of thoughts discouraging me.

Then I made up my mind to approach a foreigner without fail. At the moment, two foreigners were coming in my direction. I quickly moved myself close to them. “Excuse me, but would you help me do my homework, that is to interview a foreigner?” It was the first time for me to talk to a foreigner that I’d never met.  As soon as I completed this sentence, I got thrilled. Moreover, when they smiled mildly at me and showed a gesture of understanding, I felt encouraged to say more.

At first, I asked their names, and I got to know that one is Margaret Healy and the other is Gayle Fransworth. Margaret was kind enough to let me know that Margaret is a given name and Healy is her surname. The more I talked with them, the more confident I became to speak English. I assumed it would be impolite to ask how old they are, so instead of their age, I asked where they came from. They told me that they’re from Australia. Confused whether they said Austria or Australia, I asked them to say it one more time. Gayle clearly and slowly enunciated the word Au-stra-li-a. She also told me it seemed desirable to practice English with well prepared questions. 

I asked them many other questions. They told me they were supposed to go shopping, and then they’ll have Bibimbap because Bibimbap is one of their favorite Korean dishes. My face got reddish when they asked me out for Bibimbap together. After such a pleasant interview, I thanked them for their time and gave them my best wishes for their stay in Korea.

Compared to their bright smiles and friendly gestures, I was a little tensed, and showed a lack of eye contact. Although I was a little nervous to speak in a foreign language, I was unconsciously influenced by the Korean culture in which having direct eye contact with adults is considered rude. I don’t think I had a perfect conversation with them, but this opportunity will definitely be a stepping stone to improve my conversation skill in English. In short, I gained more confidence in speaking English than ever. I am no more afraid of speaking English, and confident in opening conversations with people from another country. This precious experience had a positive impact on learning English for me. I appreciate our professor for providing me with this kind of unforgettable opportunity.


LEARNING EMOTION, A Korean university student tells the story and challenge of his life

RD Stud 2A

  Hello, everyone. I am Park Jun Bum. It‘s a great honor for me that you’ve come to hear my speech. I’m a junior at Kookmin University and I’ve been studying Metal Craft for six years. Before I entered the university, I studied drawing for seven years, so I’ve been studying art for a total of thirteen years. As an art student, I have to be an emotional person. I’m learning how to take in my emotions in my daily life, and this is my story.


First, I’ve discovered that I can learn from everything around me. You can learn from people, animals, and the changing of the seasons. Here’s an example. One day I came back home at five in the morning, and I was really tired. I opened the door, and my house was dark and quiet. My family was asleep.  Only one small creature was awake, and that was my dog. He shook his tail and welcomed me in. He was happy that I had come back home. He never cares what time of day it is, how late it is, or how tired he is. He’ll always be there, and his eyes always seem to be encouraging me.


In Korea, we have a proverb, “He’s worse than a dog,” but at that moment I knew that this proverb was wrong. I learned then, that if a little dog can make me happy, then a little concern for others can make them happy as well. A truthful mind is revealed in truthful eyes, and you can trust that, and make good relationships with others. 


The second thing I’ve learned is always to be positive. A positive mind is really important in life, in making relationships with others, and in many other ways. When I was seventeen years old, my father committed suicide. He was disabled, and very unhappy all the time.  He lost his temper and was very negative. He tried to overcome his problems, but he couldn’t, and chose to kill himself. I lost my father and was very depressed, but I knew I couldn’t be like him. His death taught me a lot. This is when I learned the importance of having a positive mind. I want to always have a positive mind, even in bad situations. It’s like magic. This kind of mind doesn’t have hate, jealousy, blame or regret.  This kind of mind is happy and filled with delight and love. This kind of mind makes me happy and I can smile and live with appreciation for my life.


The third and final point is that everything is expression. This is not an exaggeration. I always express myself. I think human beings are social animals and we need to talk with other people, whether we’re happy or sad.  Sometimes I write my feelings down, or take a photo to show my emotions. I show my work to other people and we share our feelings with each other. This is a really enjoyable part of my life. When I express myself, I know I’m alive and that I can be a more active and passionate person. It tells me who I am and what I’m going to do, even in giving this speech.


Learn from everything, be a positive person and express your feelings; these are the ways I’ve learned to feel my emotions. I’ll probably be learning forever. I’m sure it’s going to give me a rich life, and maybe I can help others along the way. I hope we can all be happy and always live smiling at life.