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Saturday,October 24,2020
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They too are students, and FRIENDS
There was a woman born in 1965 without arms and with shortened legs. The first 19 years of her life were spent in residential institutions for people with physical impairments, and the story of those years and her subsequent success as an artist and public figure can be found in her autobiography, “My Life in My Hands.” She was awarded a Women`s World Awards in 2005 and became one of the most promising artist in the world. Her name is Alison Lapper, a British mouse and foot painting artist. 
  There was one guy who, at the age of 21, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 1962. Although the disease eventually confined him to a wheelchair and forced him to use a computer-generated voice synthesizer to communicate, he continued to teach and to lecture and began his research in cosmology. In 1971, he provided mathematical support for the Big-bang theory of the origin of the universe; he showed that if the general theory of relativity was correct, the universe must have a singularity, or starting point, in space-time. And now he is considered the greatest scientist of our century. His name is Steven Hawking.
  I read the cover story of The Dongguk Post, entitled, “We Too Are Students!” I felt regret about the need to write an article insisting the right of students with disabilities. We should not have to discuss this topic anymore. This is the 21st century and Korea is the world’s 10th economy.  At that time, I had a phone call from The Dongguk Post asking me to join the Dongguk University (DU) Centennial Anniversary events.
  I don’t feel any need to name all the great people with handicaps. We already know they are part of our community and they, of course, have a right to study and enjoy a campus life like anyone else.
  Let me just go back to the article. As a former reporter of the Post, I have a special interest in the magazine. And I especially understand how difficult it is to choose Cover Story, and do all it takes to publish the magazine. I was pleased to fine out the current situation of the disabled students at DU and to compare DU’s system with other universities: It offered some useful suggestions to school authorities to develop more school facilities and systems for the disabled. But there was a big thing missing; that is what do students with physical handicaps really want? Also, what should DU students do for them?
  I agree that school authorities have to invest more for a better environment for handicap students. It has no doubt. But if University authorities provide “hardware,” the students ourselves must provide “software” to make a better university for our precious friends.
  That is simple, we are just friends. Let’s offer our hands before they have to ask us for help. If we come to realize how happy it is to help other people, it will help ourselves more. Because we are just friends and Donggukkians. 

Lee Ji-won  leesj117@dongguk.edu

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