Sea Choi graduated from Lynnwood High and will attend the University of California San Diego in the fall. Choi was the sole high school student on a 14-person exchange trip in the spring to Damyang, South Korea, Lynnwood’s sister city. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Sea Choi graduated from Lynnwood High and will attend the University of California San Diego in the fall. Choi was the sole high school student on a 14-person exchange trip in the spring to Damyang, South Korea, Lynnwood’s sister city. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

She helped Lynnwood reach out to sister city in South Korea

While at Lynnwood High, Sea Choi traveled with officials to Damyang — and translated.

LYNNWOOD — Sea Choi, 18, graduated in June from Lynnwood High School. She was the only high school student on a 14-person exchange trip this spring to Lynnwood’s sister city, Damyang in South Korea. A delegation from Damyang visited Lynnwood in 2016.

Choi also is working two jobs in retail.

Question: How was your recent trip?

Answer: The city of Lynnwood, we established sister city relations with that city, Damyang in South Korea in 2016 … Mr. (Dave) Golden, who was the principal at that time, he asked me to help create connections with the high school in Korea, because I am fully bilingual and fluent in Korean and I was the ASB vice president during that time … We set up a pen pal system … I actually got to visit the high school and see the students and talk to the (pen pals) and now we’re doing an exchange.

Q: Why were you interested in this project?

A: Because it was tracking back to my roots in South Korea and because I was able to completely understand and communicate with the Koreans and understand the culture as well.

Q: Did you have any favorite courses?

A: My favorite academic class in Lynnwood was AP government and politics, and my favorite non-academic course was leadership.

Q: Where are you planning to continue your education?

A: I’ll be attending the University of California San Diego in the fall … I’m majoring in political science, international relations. My major is pretty well-known at that school … I lived in Lynnwood my entire life. It’d be cool to branch out and be a little more independent … and oh my goodness, the weather. It’s going to be beautiful.

Q: What are some of the lessons and experiences you took from ASB?

A: I learned the value and importance of community. It forces you to become the head figure. People, when they see Lynnwood High School or ASB, they think of me because I am the president and the leader. I learned how important it is for me as a leader to be grounded and firm in what is right and what is wrong, but to always remember the community and the diversity that comes with it.

Q: What are some of the challenges you faced?

A: When people see me, they think I have it all together and everything is figured out completely. That is definitely not the case. I struggled through SATs, college apps, trying to balance my school life with my extracurricular activities … There were often times that I did spread myself out too thin and it took a toll on my health.

Q: Had you visited Korea before?

A: I was born in Korea, and I moved here with my family when I was 3 years old, and I hadn’t been back since.

Q: What were some of the most meaningful memories of the trip?

A: Arriving at that school in Damyang was pretty cool. They had students line up right at the entrance. It was like they were welcoming celebrities almost … I got to visit the Blue House, which is the Korean White House.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

A: Scope out places to take pictures, find places to eat and hang out with my friends. I usually like to go to Seattle and do touristy things … If I want to be on my own, I’ve been really into bullet journaling. I like to journal and I like to read.

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: I just finished a book recently, it’s called “Not Forgotten” by Kenneth Bae. He was a U.S. missionary who got captured in North Korea … (The story) is super uplifting and empowering, and it was just an incredible book.

Q: Are you going to be ready for the heat in California?

A: I’m excited actually because I despise being cold. Here, I have so many parkas and all these winter clothes and I can’t take any of them with me to San Diego. That’s my biggest to-do list before I leave to California is to change my wardrobe.

Q: Are there any mentors in your life who have really helped you?

A: My mom and dad (Sungsu and Mijung Choi). My dad has taught me everything I know about being a good leader and he constantly teaches me about life and how important it is to be grounded in my faith … The same with my mom. In high school, my biggest mentor was Mrs. (Amy) Stevenson. She’s a teacher who has not just helped me throughout school, but literally in life.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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