PPLE student Sojung Lee
Class of 2018
Sojung (Sophie) Lee took three gap years to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. She travelled around 35 countries, talked to all kinds of people and eventually decided she wanted to promote human rights, especially the rights of women and children. She started by studying PPLE.
'I've always been kind of a rebel. I grew up in South Korea, but when I was 14 I travelled to India to see more of the world.
I didn't even speak English then; at my Korean school I was taught mostly grammar, but that didn’t help in the real world. So I had to work hard to learn English well enough to attend a school in India. But I didn't give up and passed the board exam within a year so I could enter junior college.'
'After I had spent about a year and a half in Pune, India, my father asked me to come back home, because he feared I would lose my Korean identity. I finished high school there. South Korean society is quite competitive and you have to put in a lot of effort. But I believe other experiences outside of academia are important, too. I told my father that I had to travel my own path, life is my own journey.'
'At first I went back to India again, but then I figured that the world is a big place and I wanted to see more. For two years I travelled around many countries, in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. I had so many different experiences and realized there are so many different perspectives on life.'
Doing something meaningful
'Sadly, everywhere I went I also saw inequality and poor people. Especially the plight of many women in the world touched me. I am from an affluent family myself, but I thought: we need to do something. If I start in a small way and find people who will hold my hand and walk down this road with me, perhaps we can make a difference.'
'Education is really important if you want to set up an NGO or work for one. At PPLE I can learn the skills and knowledge to do something meaningful for women and children in the future. In the first semester we had a seminar on female genital mutilation, a fascinating subject. Next year, I would like to do the law major, but I struggle with writing essays. I'm not afraid to challenge myself, so I am still considering it.'
Believe in yourself
'The city of Amsterdam is so liberal, with approximately 180 nationalities living here. I've been volunteering for Amnesty International, organizing movie nights with themes like refugees and human rights.'
'My advice for young people: don't be afraid, believe in yourself. If you don't give your dreams a try, you will never find out what you can and can't do.'