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Submitted by admin on Nov 1st, 2011
"Teachers at Putney initially thought of me as a ‘math and science' kid. It's really important in Korea to be outstanding in those areas, and so when I arrived at Putney it was easy for them to assume that I loved those areas of study. And it's not that I don't. But my parents both majored in philosophy as undergraduates. Inside of them—and inside of me—is a deep love of literature and history. So this trimester I'm taking a philosophy course, and enjoying thinking about the nature of the human animal. Are we inherently good? Violent? What does 'being human' even mean? I've also really enjoyed studying European and American history. And at Putney, economics is taught as a senior elective. We may not want money to rule, but it's nice to understand that sometimes it does, and that movements in the stock market, for example, provoke profound emotional and financial reactions.
"I've also gotten to study language at Putney. English is my second language, and here I've also studied Spanish. Now I'm taking Spanish 3. Perhaps the biggest personal change—and it was surprising even to me—is that I've developed a love for photography. I was assigned to a photography class when I arrived, and I had no interest whatsoever. In fact, when we were asked to take a black and white picture of anything we especially liked, I took a photo of another photo. It was of a race car. My classmates were genuinely horrified, and their disapproval made a huge impression. Here I was about to waste the opportunity to study classic black and white photography and photographic development with a professional. I came around immediately, and soon I began to really appreciate how working in film made me more careful about my shots. Film is expensive; you only have so much! I learned how to 'see' for the first time, and to appreciate details of landscape or personality or technology. I learned to compose my shot so that it would be something I'd want to look at for a long time.
"At Putney, rather than do high-pressure exams that can make or break your entire grade, twice a year we have Project Week, in which we extend our studies in one or two classes into original projects. I've matured into a very serious student of photography, and I've done four major photographic projects. I don't intend to major in photography in college. I'm not sure where my interests will take me. But just this morning I was thinking of the Putney logo—the elm tree. My life in Korea is like the trunk of that tree, a very solid base. I reached Putney and branches began growing. They're still growing, and my life is expanding."