I want to thank Ned and Jessica for pinch-hitting for me. I think it’s good to have different voices in the Review and intend to have occasional guest columnists in the future.
I can’t forget my first guest columnist, Rosa Chun, who filled in for me fourteen years ago. I’ve known Rosa most of her life and she worked for me while she was in college. Rosa grew up in Forest Park and I think she is an inspiration to all of us.
After college, Rosa earned her Master’s Degree and landed the job she wanted, working at a large law firm in human resources. Then she moved on to another prestigious company, with an office in a glittering skyscraper on Michigan Avenue.
Rosa had it made. She had achieved the American Dream: A good paying job, a condo in the South Loop with a view of the lake and a very nice car. The only problem was she wasn’t happy. Rosa has impossibly high standards and can be very hard on herself. She’s one of those humble people who doesn’t recognize how great she is.
In 2013, Rosa had the opportunity to teach English to grade school kids in South Korea. She quit her big time job, sold the nice car and rented out her condo. Rosa did the rarest thing. She traded security for possible happiness.
Rosa’s mother was very supportive and hoped she would find a nice “nahm-pyun” (aka husband) in Korea. After she left, I received occasional updates from Rosa. She was living life to its fullest, teaching, traveling and soaking up Korean culture. She was finding out who she was and developed a better understanding of her parents. Living in South Korea was filling Rosa with “waves of joy.”
Rosa also had the opportunity to explore Southeast Asia. She sent me a postcard of people riding elephants in Cambodia, a thrill she was able to scratch off her bucket list. She also spent two weeks in Thailand and went on an excursion to the Philippines. Rosa was no longer living the American Dream, but her own personal dream.
As her mother hoped, Rosa did meet a good man, though he is not a nahm-pyun. After her contract ended at the school, Rosa moved with her new “partner in crime” to Hawaii. When she was applying for an HR position, Rosa asked me to write her a recommendation. I managed to restrain myself this time and didn’t write that the world would be a better place if we had more Rosa Chuns.
She landed the job and her friend found work. They rented an apartment in Honolulu. So, today Rosa is living in paradise with someone she loves. I like to tell people about Rosa and her courageous decision: The wonderful woman I’ve known for so many years, who is happy in Hawaii. I hope she inspires others to take the bold step of trading security for “waves of joy.” After all, there’s a big need for English teachers overseas.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.