By Jiheon Jun ’14

I could have been one of those students. My experience studying abroad could have been cliché international student story from Korea. However, my extraordinary experiences of living with the Rosen family changed my perspective on the meaning of family and neighbors.

For sixteen years, I thought my family was only my parents and my sister. I thought all I needed to care about was my blood relatives. However, thanks to the Rosens, I learned a broader meaning of family. They offered to be my new family when I needed a new host family at Morgan Park Academy.

I was thankful, but at the same time, wondered why they would get out of their comfort zone. The answer was simple: They just wanted to help me.

Their genial intention made me realize how selfish I was, only thinking about me and my family. After realizing it, I began to try contribute and pay back to them what I had been received with chores, offering help in fixing technical and mechanical problems, participating in family events, playing sports with Ben, and treating them as my “real” family. I started to consider Mr. and Mrs. Rosen as my parents and friends. I would be open to speaking my opinion on family issues, personal issues, and even small stuff going on in high school.

Not only am I grateful for what the Rosens gave me, but also for the neighbors and community members who also think of me as their own son. Because I have received so much from the MPA community and the Rosens’ family and friends, I try to give back what I have received from it.

For example, I tutored our close family friend when she was struggling with a difficult math class. I could be a tutor who gets paid, but I truly enjoy the feeling that I am helping her, just like her family always cares about me.

I did not think two years living with strangers would change me to a completely different person, but it did.

The Rosens and my neighbors taught me how to be genuine and not to take anything for granted. They were not strangers. They were friends and families who I can trust and support forever.

Jiheon is a 2014 MPA graduate and 2018 honors graduate of DePaul University.