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  • Writer's pictureShe ASK

Founder's story: Lifelong Learning Inspired by Korean ajumma

Back in 2014, I was studying in Korea and working in Seoul as a part time language teacher. At the beginning, I was only teaching English and Mandarin to young working adults and kindergarten kids. One afternoon while I was studying in library, I received a call from my student and he asked me if I could teach his auntie Malay language. I doubted for a second because I didn't have any Malay language teaching experience but I also wanted to earn a little more money for my living, hence I decided to give it a try.

Just like my other teaching session, I usually have my lessons in a cozy neighborhood café. I met my student's auntie and the auntie's friends there. Total four of them and they were at age around 45 to 50 year old. Before I started teaching, I was really curious WHY they wanted to learn Bahasa (Malay language). I chat with them for a while and I realized that they were all housewives but they wanted to be a part time tour guide for Malaysian and Indonesian tourist in Seoul. They wanted to be able to speak in Malay with their clients thus they could help the travelers to understand Korean culture better and to build a better relationship with them. Before I could start the Malay lesson, they already took out their Malay text book. They were really serious about learning the language.

Right after the 1.5 hour lesson, they were rushing to another class. Again, I was wondering what other classes did these housewives have? They were actually running to their Public Speaking class and following that with Korean culture learning class. At that moment, I was shocked. Really, I was not only impressed but I felt guilty for wasting much of my time on something unnecessary and not learning enough to improve myself. As my curiosity grew, I continued to ask them WHAT motivates them to keep on learning and put so much efforts. I think they gave me a very good and realistic answer, "The world is changing and we MUST continue to learn and to improve ourselves. Otherwise we will soon be eliminated by the society." This awoke me and it reminds me that lifelong learning is imperative. Apart from learning technical skills, often we neglected Power Skills that we should be mastering to excel in our life such as Public Speaking, Communication and Self-development. The four inspiring ajummas inspired me to kickstart a platform to empower women with lifelong learning especially learning Power Skills (used to be known as Soft Skills).

*Photo taken for a youtube project, SheASK's founder was acting as a Korean ajumma! :D

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