News & Blog: Learner Stories


Written by Jennifer Summers, CWE Coordinator

Donghee Kim and her husbandTroy,have brewed beer across the globe. The couple started a beer brewery in Donghee’snative South Korea. After some time there, they decided to move back toTroy’shometown of Rockford, Michigan, and start a brewery here. They opened the family business, Third Nature Brewing,to positive reviews from the local beer community

donghee_3.jpgDonghee is a certified yoga instructor in South Korea, and wanted to become certified here as well. During the training and coursework, she felt embarrassed to read material aloud in a group, and it was difficult for her to get through all the assigned pages in the allotted time. But she noted that everyone was very patient with her, even if she couldn’t pronounce things well. “It was a hard time, but it made me grow.” 

She also performs vertical dance (a beautiful and hair-raising performing art in which dancers are harnessed to a long tether from the roof of a tall, smooth-faced building, and dance with the vertical face of the wall as the “floor”). It has been difficult for her to find appropriate buildings for the art, and her research has required some very technical reading. She has made some connections here and with a company in Europe and plans to travel this fall to perform. 

 She noted that with the brewery and in all areas of her life in the US, she has been grateful for the support of her husband and their family here. She also notes how her time at the Literacy Center has helped her. She started with group classes, and then switched to tutoring when her yoga training schedule began to conflict with classes. In group classes, she had opportunities to speak with others just like her, all working together to learn English. She has also learned different ways of expressing herself and not just translating phrases. She can now answer and continue to talk with people. This is important for her, as she observes that “if I open up what’s inside of me, everyone is so nice to me, even if I don’t speak well.” She encourages others to put themselves in situations where they have to start building their confidence. “You have to start, even if you do not feel confident. It makes you really improve.” 

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