An Honorary Citizen of St. Paul

IMAGINE a high-school student traveling thousands of miles from home and family to spend a year in an unfamiliar town where unfamiliar people speak an unfamiliar language at an unfamiliar school.  Could you have done this when you were a teenager?

For the past year, Sung Woo Son has been a welcome addition to the St. Paul community.  During his time here, he has attended Eastside High School and has made his home with Greg and Jennifer Bailey.  For the duration of his stay he chose to use a more familiar name, “Ian.”

Ian’s visit was arranged by the Pan-Atlantic Foundation.  The following information is from the organization’s website:

The Pan Atlantic Foundation’s High School in America program invites international students from across the globe to become part of American families, schools, and communities.  Our students not only become sons and daughters, but also become friends, siblings, and role models. They remind us our similarities are much stronger than our differences, and highlights how our differences enrich our shared experience.

Ian playing poker
Playing cards with the extended Bailey family during their visit to Alaska this past summer.


My name is Ian. I was born in Gwang – ju, South Korea.  I am 18 years old in American age. I’m an exchange student and I live in a house of Bailey. I arrived here for the first time on January 6th and have been here for about 11 months. I had a lot of experience living here. And as a Korean, I am experiencing many cultures and things that I would never have experienced. I want to take food as an example. I love the food here. I could taste foods that were not available in Korea and they were really delicious. Especially, I really like Gravy. I really like the taste which is very nutty and soft that I have never tasted in Korea, and I want to cook for my family when I go back to Korea.

The reason why I became an exchange student is to be an engineer. I am aiming to enter the University of Everett in Seattle a year later. I think I may get a lot of hardship and hard work, but my goal is not to give up but to study continuously to get good grades.

Actually, I was really bad at English. I couldn’t even answer the basic questions, which embarrassed many people, and I was so pathetic and hateful about myself. But now I’m proud to be able to talk a little bit about it, even though it’s not a complicated story with my family or friends. I tried but it would be very difficult without the help of the host family. I really want to thank Bailey’s family for their experiences and efforts for me.

Ian son


During the December 17th meeting of the St. Paul Town Council, Mayor Kyle Fletcher presented Ian with a certificate of honoray St. Paul Citzenship.  Regardless of where Ian goes and what life sends his way, we hope he will not forget us and will come back and see us again someday.

It’s not what we have that matters – it’s how well we share it with others.





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