It was pretty scary for Jenny Jang almost two years ago, when she and her parents moved nearly 6,000 miles across the globe from Seoul, Korea, to their new home in La Crescenta, Calif.
The then-9-year-old spoke no English, and neither did her parents, Sam and Lillian Jang nor her 7-year-old brother, Joseph.
But now, after lots of hard work and dedication to learning in her new language, Jenny, an 11-year-old sixth grader at Valley View Elementary School, speaks English fluently and helps translate for her parents as needed.
Joseph, a second grader at the school, also has picked up the language of his new homeland and converses in both English and Korean.
Jenny’s teacher at Valley View, Robert Gifford, nominated her for this week’s C.V. Sun All Star. The youth is proving herself to be multi-talented, an intelligent student, and an asset to her classroom, peers and her community, Gifford said.
“Jenny is very bright and she learns very quickly,” he said, adding that he’s amazed at how the child has gleaned so much educationally and culturally in about one-year at the school.
“Jenny’s also an excellent citizen and she has a great sense of humor. She’s an all-around great kid,” Gifford said.
Leaving friends and family members to come to the United States was difficult and she still misses them a lot, but she loves her new school and new friends, Jenny said.
“School here isn’t as strict as in Korea, but I am learning a lot here. And, the air is good here,” she said.
Jenny has many interests, including reading, singing, making people laugh, and playing and talking with her friends.
In addition to learning to speak English, she has been teaching her friends some words in Korean, she said.
She also is active in her church, Church Every Day, which has both English and Korean language teachings. Jenny sings in the choir at her church and loves to sing solo as well as with the choir. She hopes to be a professional singer someday, she said.
Lillian Jang said she’s proud of her daughter and she is happy when her daughter reaches her goals.
Sam Jang also expressed his approval of his daughter’s efforts in school and as an All Star.
“My parents encourage me to always do my best and work hard all the time,” Jenny said.
In addition to working hard, getting good grades and impressing staff with her studies at her school, Jenny caught the spotlight at Valley View for another recent endeavor. She won the hula hoop contest at the school’s fall family picnic, Gifford said.
“I was really impressed with Jenny’s dedication. She practiced every spare minute she got,” he said.
“During lunch and whenever she was just standing around, she had the hula hoop around her waist and she was going around practicing. That practicing paid off.”