Published: Oct. 27, 2022
Female student smiling
Female student singing

Congratulations, Sarah Al Qallaf (Korean Minor) for receiving the Excellence Award for her outstanding Korean skills at the 2022 Online Korean Poetry Recitation Contest, held for the first time by the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles!

(Original Korean Article)

In this online competition, a total of 242 people (96 beginners, 100 intermediate, 46 advanced) from all over the US, including Washington, Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania as well as California participated.

Sarah Al Qallaf, who received the Excellence Award for her outstanding Korean skills in this contest, was the only recipient of the award, and received attention by reciting Baek Seok's work "Me and Natasha and the White Donkey".

When asked why she chose "Me, Natasha and the White Donkey" as the poem reciting work in an interview with Sarah, she replied, "Natasha in the poem reminded me of my mother in Kuwait.""The narrator waiting in the white snow, waiting for his beloved Natasha, overlapped with that of me missing my mother on a snowy last winter day (snow is rare in Kuwait, but common in Colorado)," she added.

In addition, she said, "Through this competition, I learned the charm of Korean poetry for the first time. When I read poetry, I tried to capture my own feelings." Sarah came to study in the United States from her hometown of Kuwait in 2020, and is currently a sophomore at University of Colorado Boulder. She is majoring in biology while studying Korean as a minor. Sarah's love for Korean goes back to her middle school. She studied Korean on her own since middle school, and started studying Korean formally at the university in the Fall semester of 2021.

Professor Sangbok Kim, who works in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations and teaches Korean at the University, said, “I think she deserves the award. Among the students in my class, her Korean skills were excellent.” Then, he said, "In fact, she was a student who enjoyed learning more than what was taught in class. She always actively participated in class activities. Even after completing the Korean language courses, she is currently participating in the 'Korean Conversation Table' on Wednesdays in Fall 2022." He praised Sarah's great efforts to learn Korean language and culture.

Sarah, who loves Korean songs as much as Korean, won the Best Performance Award for producing a witty music video for the Asian Language Night 2021 hosted by the Department of Asian Language and Civilizations. Aside from Korean and her native language, Arabic, she can speak English, Chinese, French, Japanese, and German. When asked about her future dreams, she said, "I want to make use of my linguistic talents, and after majoring in biology at the University, I want to study at a medical school and ultimately help people around the world as a competent neurosurgeon."