Jae had never stepped foot on an ice-skating rink prior to arriving to Rochester, NY this past fall.
Jae’s host mother, Darline, first introduced him to the sport. Jae, who is from Korea, explains that everyone in his host family is involved in ice skating. Now, he not only ice skates well, but he shares his newly discovered talent with physically impaired children.
“My host mother asked me to volunteer, and although I had never skated before, I thought I should give it a try,” he says. It turns out that Jae loves ice skating, and is quite good at it. Every Sunday, he and his host mother volunteer to teach physically impaired students how to ice skate.
Darline has been volunteering for 25 years, and felt that Jae would benefit from sharing in the experience with her on a weekly basis. She was delighted when he agreed to give it a try. She recalls how in the beginning, Jae didn’t fully understand how important it was to be there every week and how much the kids relied on him. When he missed one week, one of the kids was so disappointed. Jae has not missed a week since. “He is such a great kid and is so friendly,” Darline says of Jae.
“Volunteering with disabled kids has been such an enriching experience,” he says. ” I have met Luke (through the experience), and he has become one of my best friends.” Luke, who is blind, has been learning how to ice skate from Jae.
More than anything, his volunteer experience has provided Jae with a sense of community.
“Jae has been my favorite student and is always so polite and positive,” says his host father, Steven. “He is extremely smart, does well in school, and our family loves him dearly.”
Glori, his Local Coordinator, describes Jae as being “wonderful, open and friendly,” and has enjoyed getting to know him and witnessing how fulfilling his experience has become.
Jae has appreciated his experience and opportunities made available to him on the PSE program thus far. “In the beginning, it was hard to communicate and make new friends,” he reflects. Now, after giving it some time, he shares “The PSE program is really good; I have made so many new friends, improved my English, and my host family is so nice,”
He appreciates that the curriculum is excellent at his high school in Rochester, and the classes are quite challenging. His teachers are very helpful, and his favorite classes are Math, English and Principals of Engineering. Besides volunteering, Jae also participates on the La Crosse team.
Jae plans to graduate in two years, and would like to attend college and study architecture, biology or engineering.