This week's MilTeen Spotlight is Miranda S., a 12th grader stationed at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, where her father works for the Department of Defense. Miranda is the coordinator for Hello Friends, a local organization in Korea that provides English education for multiracial Korean children and other children who are learning the language. She's also an active Girl Scout! Read on to learn more about Miranda and her amazing experiences!
Where have you lived? Which location was your favorite and why?
I have had the chance to live in England, Germany, Turkey, South Korea and the United States. My favorite place I have lived so far is a hard choice to make, but it would be South Korea because I have met some of my closest friends while I have been here. I also really enjoy the history, culture, food, and people of South Korea.
Describe your work with Hello Friends in your own words. How did it come about and what are you currently up to?
I started working with Hello Friends when I was living in Seoul in Yongsan, South Korea and I met Ambassador Dho. I first started off as a volunteer who would read books to a student and work one-on-one. When I moved down to Camp Humphreys [in Pyeongtaek, South Korea], Ambassador Dho asked if my parents and I would be willing to keep the program going down here. We decided that we would be happy to start the program in the Humphreys Community. We started the program with the House of Many Ethnics in Pyeongtaek City, where we held in-person sessions where we would focus on a theme, like Halloween, and would have a game, craft, and books to go along with the theme. When COVID hit, we had to change and go virtual with the program, and ended up holding an International Friendship program, where groups of students and volunteers had the chance to learn more about each other’s cultures. Finally, recently we have been working with the ESOL students in the elementary schools on Humphreys, to hold in person sessions based around interactive stories and children’s books. Currently we are in the midst of our children’s book authors sessions.
Can you tell us about your experiences as a Girl Scout?
I have been a part of Girl Scouts since I was five years old, in Kindergarten in England. I have had the chance to be part of Girl Scout Communities in South Korea, Germany, and Turkey as well. While I have been in Girl Scouts, I have had the chance to earn all three of the possible awards. For my Bronze Award, I created a website that taught people about the life of a refugee and what they go through on a daily basis. For my Silver Award, I conducted a survey to measure and catalog the submerged aquatic vegetation population on the Cypress Creek, which indicates how healthy or sick a body of water is. I also held a workshop that taught people how to create eco-friendly backyards on their waterfront property.
Are there any other hobbies, organizations, or clubs that you are passionate about? Tell us more!
One hobby that I am very passionate about is photography, because it allows me to capture some of the best moments of my life. The feel of having a camera in my hands is so freeing because I have the ability to control all the settings for my picture. But the reason I love photography so much is that when I take pictures of other people and show them their photos, I get to see the smiles on their faces and share that joy. Photography has been a great hobby to keep with all of my moving around the world.
What’s next for you personally and for Hello Friends? Any particular goals or exciting plans?
With Hello Friends, we will have a four week program after coming back from Spring Break, where we will feature some book authors such as the author of Pete The Cat. After that, my family and I will be PCSing this summer to the United States, as I will be graduating and going to college in the fall. Hello Friends will be taken over by The Day Family who have been volunteers with us this past year, and they will continue to work with Ambassador Dho on the program.
What’s something that you wish others understood about military life?
One thing that I wish people understood about military life is that it is an experience that I would never give up for anything. I have been asked by people in middle school if I wished I had never had to move away from my friends and family, and my answer was that I would never change anything about my life. Having the chance to live overseas and have a global experience has made me the person I am today. And along with the fact that I love the lifestyle, I wish people understood that, even though I don’t live in America, I am still a U.S. citizen.
What words of wisdom do you have for other current or future military-connected teens?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there when you move to a new place. Whenever I would move to a new place, I would always introduce myself to my teachers and classmates, because that was one of the easiest ways to make friends and feel comfortable in a new place. Don’t be afraid to try new things because you never know what you might end up liking. Be proud of the lifestyle and experiences you have had, because they make you unique.
Where can our readers follow you or get involved with your organizations?
Your readers can follow me on Instagram at @mirandasurrett04 or @momentscapturedbymiranda, which is my photography account. For Hello Friends, people can email email@example.com to be a part of the program.
Anything else you want to share with us?
BLOOM is a great organization that has definitely provided me with a global community of articles to read from people who are also military-connected teens.