Twenty-four hours is not enough for a person like Sohn Jie-ae (’85, Politics & Diplomacy), a correspondent and Seoul Bureau chief who meets two billion people in the world every day through CNN and who is a mother of three children including a go sam (a senior in high school). Uttering “I wish I had more time,” Sohn takes on another challenge as she stands not in front of TV viewers, nor her children and husband but as of the first semester of 2007 in front of students.
“It is my freshman year of lecturing in front of students as a professor although it came a little bit earlier than I expected,” said Sohn. Despite her 22 year career as a correspondent for CNN, she bravely paved the way to embrace a new profession in teaching. According to Sohn’s over all life plan, she wanted to start giving back to society what she has learnt thus far, such as through transferring her knowledge about journalism to other by way of lecturing.
After receiving a call from Ewha asking her to teach Media & Social Change, one of the major subjects in the Division of Media Studies, Sohn tried to figure out how she could teach. Since she had never formally learned about journalism, Sohn spent many sleepless nights in preparation. “I wanted to be sure what I was talking about was not something that was out of some book, as there will be many people who know theories better than I do. So I decided to make my class as real and practical as possible and to feel the real news world by delivering my in-field experience and thoughts to students,” said Sohn.
“The first few weeks were dreadful. I’ve asked so many people how to teach. They told me that I have to post something called a syllabus, elect a class president, work with Ewha Cyber Campus, which were completely foreign to me,” said Sohn. “I didn’t know any other professors so my students were my guide to being a teacher. They taught me how to mingle with the Ewha Cyber Campus, a website where students and teachers post their homework or class materials, which is still a mystery to me,” Sohn added.
She confessed that for the first few weeks she crossed out on her calendar and counted how many classes she had left. However, she now has a new habit. Scribbling down on a flash card seemingly with trivial incidents or controversial issues that arose during her journalist work, is one of them. She then brings those real-life experiences into her class for discussion. “When the Virginia Tech accident broke out I couldn’t wait to see my students. I even posted up on the Ewha Cyber Campus saying that I am very busy but looking forward to our next class,” said Sohn.
Despite the change from what she has been doing for the past 22 years, Sohn still finds some similarities between journalism and teaching. “I think there is a similarity in teaching and broadcast journalism. It is that you get to stand in front of everyone and convey what you have learned. However, the difference is that, as a reporter you get to be the observer of certain issues but in teaching you get to be the doer,” said Sohn.
Having multiple jobs cannot be easy for Soh, but when she was asked how she manages her time so efficiently, she confidently said “The key is setting priorities and setting them right. Setting priorities will enable you to get things done quickly and easily.”
Sohn emphasized that having an over all life plan and accepting mistakes is also needed to develop oneself. “I am juggling so many things at once. And I am going to drop the ball every once in a while, like forgetting to pay tuition fees for my go sam daughter. But you can never be a perfect someone, so you have to forgive yourself when you drop the ball and then move on quickly.”
Having already taught for three months, Sohn’s first experience lecturing is about to come to an end. “I also get to learn from students too. Especially regarding newly developed media like online journalism, talking to university students breaks a lot of stereotypes. And it is quite helpful and surprising to have a better insight to the younger generation.” She said she still has many plans for her class, “I want to take them to my foreign correspondent’s club, bring someone in to class to discuss certain topics. But I can’t believe I only have few classes left,” said Sohn.