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ELC Boston Student Spotlight: Ha “Thomas” TaeGyun June 29th, 2015

The English Language Center is a hub not only for academic pursuits, but also a meeting place in which friendships are formed. These friendships transcend borders, oceans, and language barriers. Every so often, our community is graced by a student who not only exhibits a cunning desire to enhance their educational goals, but one who forges relationships with those around them. Ha TaeGyun, endearingly known as Thomas, was one of those students at our school.

We had a wonderful opportunity to sit down with Thomas and ask him about his aspirations, best memories, and life lessons. During his time at ELC, he involved students in a groundbreaking film project that took imagination, skill, and amazing execution. This, after all, is the goal of our school: to inspire young people to explore the world around them, to embrace the community they find themselves in, and ultimately leave their mark.

In terms of your experience at ELC in particular and Boston in general, what do you feel most proud of?

My English was really bad, so I had made several rules to improve my English: (1) don’t speak in Korean even if I talk to Koreans, (2) don’t be reserved, talk to as many people, as much as I can.  In the beginning, it was hard to stick to these rules. There were many Koreans in the city, I felt exhausted sometimes, and it was embarrassing to talk to strangers. However, I kept trying. One day, when in conversation class, I realized I was arguing my opinion in English. In that moment, I was really proud of myself.

What teacher at ELC made the most impact on you and why?

Many teachers made an impact on me but I should say Craig. I wanted to make a film and I would not have been able to do it without Craig. When I mentioned my idea to him, he supported me and introduced me to people who could help me. He let me borrow equipment and provided endless advice. I really appreciate him.

If you could only keep 5 possessions, what would they be?

Glasses, a flint, a big water bottle, an army knife, and a tablet for all of my e-books.

What are some of the most important lessons you learned in life? How did you learn them?

If there is something you really want to do, just do it. Make a plan, write your progress down, and check what you’ve done and what needs to be completed. Find people who can help you! Struggle to get the result.  I’ve been in the Air Force for 2 years and worked as an Airplane Engineer. The repairs I had to make were difficult and took a long time. Everything began with small steps: figure out the problem and make a plan. It is important to begin with small steps; you can’t do anything if you never start! Even when you are planning a big project, it doesn’t have to start with a big step.

What is your strongest personal quality?

I always have an open mind. I think it makes me different. I like to try as many new things as I possibly can. This adds to my experience.

How did you get into filmmaking and what inspired you to make a film at ELC?

When I found out Craig had film equipment, I explained my idea to him and asked if he would be willing to let me borrow it. He liked my idea and wanted to help me. I needed people who would be interested in making the film with me, so I made a presentation. After that, 6 people joined my production team!

Can you tell me about the film you directed and produced?

The film is called One Time. It’s based on the idea of going back to the past. The main character, John, arrives at school but gets stuck in the past. He repeats the morning of the first day of school over and over again. It’s like a time trap. I called the film “One Time” because many people want to live the same day, one more time. But in the movie, John didn’t want to live the same day one more time. One time was enough for him!

Thomas film

 Above: Thomas leads his writers and actors during one of their meetings.

What doubts did you have about making the film and how did you overcome them?

The biggest problem was time. We had to do everything in a month. Literally, everything: from finding equipment to editing the film. I needed to make an efficient plan, so I spent a lot of time going over this. Our second problem was finding enough people. We needed to have a script written with many writers so we could finish on time. Several people quit because they did not agree on the accepted idea. I was frustrated because I hadn’t expected someone to quit. I knew I had to continue to encourage the other writers. It worked out well and we finished the script. We also had difficulty finding a main actress. Because we didn’t have enough time, we decided to write another script that didn’t have a main actress. And that is how One Time happened!

What was one of your most defining moments in life?

I think it is now. I’ll graduate from university in 2 years. Nowadays, I think about what kind of job I want. By the time I go back to Korea, I’ll have decided what I’m going to do. I am trying to get a lot of experiences before I start a job. I’ve already had so many! These experiences help me to think differently. So, this moment is really important for me.

We think your time is now too, Thomas! Check out Thomas’ debut film, One Time, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_gEkhEL4GQ&feature=youtu.be