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‘We are like a family’
by Garrett Valenzuela
Apr 08, 2013 | 3822 views | 1 1 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sung Taek Oh
Sung Taek Oh
SPARKS — Two years ago, Sung Taek Oh made the move to Sparks from his home in South Korea after he and his parents agreed it was best for him to learn to speak English at a high level. Oh came to Nevada to live with a family who had been in America far longer than he had, forcing him to speak English almost exclusively.

Oh said memorizing vocabulary words and speaking to students at Excel Christian High School really brought his English to the forefront and now allows him to be a leader within the school. At age 18, the senior student manages a difficult line of classes and also participates in Yearbook and Leadership classes to help coordinate events throughout school. Oh is also the school’s Student Body President, giving him a chance to interact even more with his fellow students.

“At first I was really stressed about all the things I had going on, all of the school stuff. It was just coming right at me and I was so busy,” Oh said of his first years at Excel Christian. “Being a leader in the school is hard because you are dealing with the people, but I started talking to my teachers and I had some quiet time to myself and I figured out that I am the leader but my leader is God.

“When some stuff stresses me out or makes me nervous and tired, I keep thinking that it is not about me. It is about God. God is going to lead me and help me get through that and I think that is the big thing in getting through that stuff. All the environment and situations are the same, but my eyes and my perspective got changed.”

Oh has grown to love his role as a leader at the school and has been highly involved in the school Worship Team, which leads sermons each Friday. Being a non-native speaker during his first year at Excel Christian, Oh said the thought of preaching in front of his peers was frightening but the experience has helped him grow as a young man.

“My first year was really challenging,” he said, “Because I have never led the worship for that many people, and I actually had a hard time at first. I realized sometimes if you are not focused on God, and you are focused on yourself and trying to show off your abilities, that is not the point. The point is you are leading them close to his presence. It is not about me, it is about him. That is the biggest thing I have learned so far.”

Oh said the students and teachers at Excel Christian have become very much a big family to him. From playing basketball during off periods to preparing for the Academic Olympics competition, he said the culture of the school has made it easy for him to fit in and succeed in his studies.

“I think since our school is really small, the most fun part is interacting with each other,” Oh said. “We are not just playing basketball, we are like a family. The fun part is getting to know each other more and more.

“As a leader and being in Leadership, it is really tiring and time consuming and sometimes hard, but I think planning that stuff is really fun. It challenges me and leads me to different levels of thinking. I have learned so much just by doing that.”

As Oh prepares to finish high school in Sparks, he said the future is still uncertain. He hopes to attend college in the United States and achieve his goal of becoming a diplomat for his home country, but the senior said he may have a new path ahead of him.

“My dream was I wanted to be a diplomat and be able to go around the countries and interact with them,” he said. “Nowadays, I am feeling more different because when I see God more, and I am more involved with churches, I think more and more I want to serve my life to him. For me, I am not sure yet. I don’t know what I am going to do yet.

“One thing I know is that I had no idea I was going to be in Reno-Sparks two years ago. God brought me here to do some stuff and I believe he is going to lead me to the right place. I am not positive what I am going to do yet, but I am just waiting and praying.”
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Angele Navares
April 10, 2013
Inspiring! I can't imagine going to another country and being immersed like this, then ending up as such a leader. I admire Sung Taek greatly and applaud Excel Christian School as a place where everyone can find their way and truly EXCEL!
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