Once in a lifetime trip to Korea!

My name is Jaz and I'm 25 years old. Please take a few minutes to read why this means so much to me.
I work two jobs; one being a personal assistant (which I'm new at) and I'm also a Taekwondo instructor, which has some kind of magical hold on me.

Now don't let me mislead you. Going to Korea definitely isn't "once in a lifetime." I could save for a year and make it happen. What makes this trip different than pleasure travel is that I have the chance to go with my boss, my mentor, my second father, someone I really truly respect...Master Kwon. He is a 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist in Taekwondo and was some sort of prodigy in his 'hey-day.' We would be touring a few of the places he has trained, as well as his college, Kyung Hee University, and Kukkiwon (the World Taekwondo headquarters).

Master Kwon plays a pivotal part of my life. I credit a lot of who I am today to him. When I was in my later teens to early 20's I became what my friends and family would say "not myself." Throughout my childhood I was known as the scared one. I was always afraid to break any rule (I was a downer for all the nights we tp'd cute boys houses), polite to all the parents/teachers/elders (they loved me for that), never talked back or stood up for myself, had low self esteem, had excellent grades (I cried in 4th grade when I got a B on a Social Studies test)...so basically I was someone who got walked over all the time. Weak. I started to find myself and my personality in middle school and high school and I was happy. I had a lot of friends, continued to get good grades, and was what I considered successful in my high school career. Till senior year when it all fell apart.

I missed school (because I wanted to), forged notes, my relationship with my parents fell apart, my family didn't respect me anymore, I was partying a lot, and I won't say I lost but was estranged by all of my friends. I was really angry at the world and I guess you could say that everyone pretty much gave up on me. (Keep in mind this may or may not be "normal" teenage behavior to you, but to my family it came clear out of nowhere and they did not know how to deal with their once near perfect child who became some sort of monster).

Enter: Master Kwon. I was 19 and teaching gymnastics. One of my friends offered me a job for extra money teaching gymnastics at his workplace, a Taekwondo school. I did that for a few weeks and maybe Master Kwon noticed that I had a lot of experience teaching children and approached me about training me for free if I would agree to assist teaching classes and answer phones. I reluctantly accepted ONLY because I wanted extra money. Our weekly meetings were frustrating. He was always asking me what I was doing when I wasn't at work, asking about my grades, annoying me about studying for the midterm I mentioned, asking how I was doing at home with my family...a bunch of stuff I DID NOT want to tell him, but for some reason he always knew when I was lying or when something was wrong.
*This is NOT a sob story, you'll see.

My resentment towards Master Kwon went on for about 8 months despite the fact that he was paying me to be there. I had gotten to the purple belt rank and it was almost like I all of a sudden began to understand him. He was always pushing me, encouraging me to do better in Taekwondo, school, and in life. I realized that it was because he believed in me. He knew that my heart wasn't this depressed monster that it had become over recent years - he helped me find happiness again. This was the strongest happiness I had felt in a long time because it was happiness I found in myself. I was quickly climbing the ranks towards the prestigious Black belt, was doing well in school (made it to the Dean's list!), and was building my relationships back with all of my family and friends - whom I have to credit a huge part of finding myself again because none of them EVER truly gave up on me, I have the deepest rooted love for you guys and you know that. I had many things to be proud of again.

Master Kwon turned my life around, in every meaning of the phrase you can think of. Today I am stronger than ever (physically, yes but more so MENTALLY), I can find happiness in ANYTHING and EVERYTHING (if you've spent a minute with me you know this), and my goals and dreams are bigger than they have ever been and I have the confidence to attain them.

I'm reaching out because the trip is in July and I'm already passed the due date of the first down payment. I wouldn't ask for the help if this didn't truly mean something to me and if I didn't really need the help because on a Taekwondo instructor's paycheck you better believe that I need all the help I can get. (And yes, I probably can go out and get a better paying job but then it wouldn't be something that makes me happy that I'm passionate about.)

Anything is truly appreciated, there is no donation too small. The $3,000.00 includes airfare, hotel, and almost all of my meals for 10 days!
(Master Kwon planned a great all inclusive itinerary).

Thank you for taking the time to read my message!


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Jaz Sanchez 
Yorba Linda, CA
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