As a child, my family always called me a bookworm. While the other children were out playing hide-and-seek and other fun games, I was on the porch swing or sitting out in the grass reading one of my favorite novels. Of course, I did have a lot of toys and games in my room; however, my favorite things were my books that filled the shelves. When my siblings were asking for toys for Christmas, I always had a book in mind.
I had a lot of friends in school and had a good report card every quarter. Math was probably my worst subject. I excelled in English, Literature, Social Studies, and Science, because a lot of reading was involved. Our English teacher was a gifted lady who brought the works of Shakespeare alive for our class. She introduced famous authors and poets as if they were old friends. It was truly inspirational to find someone who loved to read as much as I did.
My first job was a part-time clerk at our local library. As a senior in high school, I went to school half a day and got work in the afternoon. For me, the library was like a candy shop is for a little child. I was surrounded by hundreds of volumes on innumerable subjects. Even though I could not read on the job, I always had a book to read at break time and a big stack of them to take home in the evening.
After I finished high school, I attended college and got a Master of Library Science degree. I have been head of the reference department for ten years now and enjoy books just as much as when I was a child. I enjoy the smiles on patrons’ faces when I show them new titles by some of their favorite authors. The knowledge that I have gleaned from reading is invaluable.
Recently, I ordered a newly published book by Yeonmi Park. I enjoy reading autobiographies and thought that it would be a good read. The story this young woman wrote broke my heart and opened my eyes to the prevalence and obscene cruelty of human trafficking. It was unimaginable that someone could survive such a horrific ordeal and write about it.
Park and her family lived in one of the most oppressive countries in the world, North Korea. Her father had been sent to prison for allegedly making underground deals with the Chinese. In order to save themselves from starvation and possible death, Park and her family trust a shady group of Chinese human smugglers to get them out of North Korea. During their three year ordeal, they Park family was terribly abused. Their father had colon cancer and died in the lonely Mongolian hills. With an instinct to survive, Park and her mother finally made it to the sanctuary of the South Korean embassy.
Now at the age of twenty-two, Yeonme Park is a world lecturer for human rights and an advocate for victims of human trafficking. She speaks works of encouragement and determination as a leading voice for international involvement. I have read a lot of books over the years and consider Park’s book to be one of the best examples of compassion and survival.