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Interview with Thomas Taban Akot


From the Korean News Service


Busan, Korea, 30 January 2018 -- Thomas Taban Akot who is Don Bosco Past Pupils of Don Bosco School Tonj, South Sudan is an international student at Inje University-Medical College in Busan, Korea. He graduat the medical college and passed Medical Licensing Examination in Korea.


Your home place in Tonj, South Sudan became known for the great difficulties of long civil war and many causalities, how do you feel about this?


The civil continue for decades. Many people lost their homes or became refugees, many got sick without any possibility of medical treatment. I was asking myself: “What can do for those, who suffer so much?” When I was a student, I was interested in science, but my conclusion was, that I become a medical doctor! (J laughter!)


Until now in your home place there is a lack of necessary infrastructure


Yes, until now, there is not a real hospital, only the capital of Juba, with the latest medical instruments and devices. Last year in February my father passed away (stomach cancer), but I was not able to return and to help him as medical doctor. I had quite strong remorse of conscience, I was just crying. However ongoing thought about my mother and extended family helped me to stand up and don’t disappoint many who believed so much in me.


How did you become a medicine student in Korea?


Yes, I was lucky. Late Fr. John Lee, SDB did recommend me. During Christmas 2009 I got a phone call from one doctor who asked me if I would not like to study medicine in Korea. First I thought the study would be in English, but then I spent a long time to master also the Korean language.


Do you remember first encounter with late Fr. John Lee?


Yes, it was during my junior high school studies. I was an altar boy in Tonj and Fr. Lee invited me to join the youth music band. So I learnt the flout and guitar. Our band grew up to 30 members and I was entrusted with the alto saxophone. I was also observing that Fr. John daily after the Mass went to the small clinic and helped so many patients. All of them looked very happy. I told to myself: “I should also become like him!”


Who was Fr. John for you, Thomas?


I spent with him about 8 years. It’s difficult to describe it in one word. What is sure, Fr. John brought joy to everyone in Tonj. He was talking to all young and old without exception. First was difficult for me to approach him since he was a priest, but later on I overcome the distance. When I reflect on him as a medical doctor, it’s amazing. Especially in Korea to become a medical doctor means to receive a lot of fame and wealth. But Fr. John gave up all of this in order to come to the poor country of Sudan and serve us. It was his life choice.


To study medical university in Korea was not easy. How do feel now after graduation?


I still don’t’ believe it. It was really difficult from the time of enrollment until now. However I was not ashamed to ask the help of my classmates. In this way I became very close to my classmates and was never tired to ask their help. I was studying very hard, but without a daily help of my fellow students it would be impossible to graduate and pass the government exam.


Who did you help at most in a concrete way?


Yes, there were three main benefactors. One was my roommates in the University boarding room and we became very close friends. Then were the friends of my class with whom we spent a lot of time in our study group before exams. Since I was foreigner they helped me first of all to established trust with each other, with the patients. They told me often ‘Older brother, you should not do like that, you need to do it in this way!’ Their help was crucial and very consistent. I received their small notes with memo containing many details! After exams I run to them to express my grateful heart.


What is your dream about your next life in your homeland of South Sudan?


My first goal is to conclude the internship and resident period and to become a surgeon. I would like to become like Fr. John Lee, to serve other people in Tonj. In fact, I dreamt to return immediately after my graduation, but the academic authorities of Inje University convinced me to finalize the whole medical preparation in Korea, since in South Sudan there are not yet the best conditions to do this.


You told us that Fr. John Lee was your life-model?


I never reflected in my life, who is my role model. However when I met Fr. John and lived together I learnt from him many things. He was not just a teacher in the classroom who transmit the knowledge. He never taught us how we should live, what we should do. But observing his life attitude, I realized he approach everybody as friend, with a ‘humble heart’ in order to make other people happy.’ This is a precious life attitude I learnt from Fr. John Lee. When he passed away the people of Tonj were crying like his family or relatives. Thanks to this attitude - to make always the first step towards others - I have received in Korea a lot of help from other people.




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  • vaclav 2018.01.30 21:43

    Corea del Sud – Dr. Thomas Taban Akot: un medico da Tonj sulle orme di don Lee Tae-Suk
    30 Gennaio 2018
    Corea del Sud – Dr. Thomas Taban Akot: un medico da Tonj sulle orme di don Lee Tae-Suk

    (ANS – Busan) – Thomas Taban Akot, Exallievo dell’opera salesiana a Tonj, Sudan del Sud, si è recentemente laureato presso la Facoltà di Medicina dell’Istituto Medico-Universitario Inje di Busan e ha superato l’esame di abilitazione in Corea. Nel suo percorso professionale e umano fondamentale è stato l’incontro con don John Lee Tae-Suk (1962-2010), medico e Salesiano coreano.

    Come sei arrivato a studiare Medicina in Corea?

    Sono stato fortunato. Mi consigliò don Lee. A Natale del 2009 ricevetti una telefonata da un medico che mi chiese se mi sarebbe piaciuto studiare Medicina in Corea. Inizialmente pensai che avrei dovuto studiare in inglese, ma poi ho passato molto tempo per imparare a padroneggiare anche il coreana.

    Ricordi il tuo primo incontro con il compianto don Lee?

    Sì, avvenne quando ero alle medie. Facevo il chierichetto a Tonj e don Lee mi invitò a far parte della banda musicale giovanile. Così ho imparato a suonare flauto e chitarra. La nostra banda è cresciuta fino ad arrivare a 30 membri e mi venne affidata la parte del sassofono. Ogni giorno osservavo don Lee che dopo la messa andava nel dispensario medico e aiutava tantissimi pazienti e tutti sembravano molto felici. Mi sono detto allora: “anch’io dovrei diventare come lui!”.

    Chi era per te don Lee?

    Ho trascorso con lui circa 8 anni. È difficile descriverlo in una sola parola. Ciò che è certo è che portava la gioia a tutti a Tonj. Parlava a tutti, giovani e anziani, senza eccezioni. All’inizio fu difficile per me avvicinarmi a lui, essendo lui sacerdote, ma poi superai la distanza. Quando penso a lui come medico, penso che è incredibile: soprattutto in Corea diventare medico significa ricevere grande prestigio e ricchezza. Ma don John rinunciò a tutto questo per venire a servirci nel nostro povero paese. È stata la sua scelta di vita.

    Cosa sogni per il tuo futuro in Sudan del Sud?

    Il mio primo obiettivo è concludere il tirocinio e il periodo di residenza e diventare chirurgo. Mi piacerebbe diventare come don Lee, per servire altre persone a Tonj. In realtà, desideravo tornare subito dopo la mia laurea, ma le autorità accademiche dell’Università di Inje mi hanno convinto a completare l’intera preparazione medica in Corea, dal momento che nel Sudan del Sud non ci sono ancora le migliori condizioni per farlo.

    Don Lee è stato il tuo modello di vita?

    Non ho mai riflettuto nella mia vita su chi fosse il mio modello di riferimento. Tuttavia quando ho incontrato don John e ho vissuto accanto a lui ho imparato molte cose. Non era solo un insegnante che trasmette conoscenze. Non ci ha mai insegnato come dovevamo vivere, cosa dovevamo fare… Ma osservandolo, mi sono reso conto che si avvicinava a tutti come un amico, con un “cuore umile”, per rendere felici gli altri. Questo è un atteggiamento prezioso della vita che ho imparato da don Lee. Quando morì la gente di Tonj piangeva come per un parente. Grazie a questo atteggiamento - fare sempre il primo passo verso gli altri - ho ricevuto in Corea molto aiuto da altre persone.

    Fonte: Korean News Service

  • vaclav 2018.01.30 22:01

    Corea del Sur - Thomas Taban Akot: un doctor de Tonj siguiendo los pasos del P. John Lee Tae-Suk
    30 Enero 2018
    Corea del Sur - Thomas Taban Akot: un doctor de Tonj siguiendo los pasos del P. John Lee Tae-Suk

    (ANS - Busan) - Thomas Taban Akot, es ex alumno de la obra salesiana en Tonj, Sudán del Sur. Se graduó recientemente en la Facultad de Medicina del Instituto Médico-Universitario de Busan y aprobó el examen de calificación en Corea. Su camino profesional y humano, fue cuando este médico se encontró con el P. John Lee Tae-Suk (1962-2010), médico y salesiano Coreano.

    ¿Por qué estudiaste medicina en Corea?

    Tuve suerte de conocer al P. Lee y fue él quien me aconsejó. En la Navidad del año 2009, recibí una llamada de un médico que me preguntó si me gustaría estudiar medicina en Corea. Inicialmente pensé que debería estudiar medicina en inglés, pero me puse a pensar que he pasado mucho tiempo aprendiendo y tratando de dominar el coreano.

    ¿Recuerdas tu primer encuentro con el fallecido Padre Lee?

    Sí, sucedió cuando estaba en la escuela secundaria. Yo era un monaguillo en Tonj y el P. Lee me invitó a unirme al grupo musical juvenil. Ahí aprendí a tocar flauta y guitarra. Nuestro grupo musical creció y llegamos unos 30 miembros. Me encomendaron tocar el saxofón. Todos los días veía al P. Lee, que acudía al dispensario médico después de la misa y ayudaba a muchos pacientes, y todos estaban muy felices. Entonces me dije: “¡Yo también debería ser como él!”.

    ¿Quién era el P. Lee para ti?

    Pasé unos 8 años con él. Es difícil describirlo en una palabra. Lo cierto es que trajo alegría a todas las personas de Tonj. Hablaba con todos, ya sean jóvenes o mayores, sin ninguna excepción. Al principio fue difícil acercarme a él, ya que le tenía cierta distancia porque era un sacerdote, pero luego superé las distancias. Cuando pienso en él como doctor, pienso que es increíble: especialmente en Corea, convertirse en doctor significaba obtener prestigio y riqueza. Pero el P. Lee renunció a todo esto para venir y servirnos en nuestro pobre país. Fue su elección de vida.

    ¿Qué sueños tienes para el futuro en Sudán del Sur?

    Mi primer objetivo es terminar la pasantía y el período de residencia y convertirme en cirujano. Me gustaría ser como el P. Lee para servir a otras personas en Tonj. De hecho, quería regresar inmediatamente después de mi graduación, pero las autoridades académicas de la Universidad de Inje me convencieron de completar toda la preparación médica en Corea, ya que en Sudán del Sur todavía no existen las mejores condiciones para hacerlo.

  • vaclav 2018.01.30 22:02

    Coreia do Sul – Dr. Thomas Taban Akot, um médico de Tonj nos passos do P. Lee Tae-Suk
    30 janeiro 2018
    Coreia do Sul – Dr. Thomas Taban Akot, um médico de Tonj nos passos do P. Lee Tae-Suk

    (ANS – Busan) – Thomas Taban Akot, Ex-aluno da obra salesiana de Tonj, Sudão do Sul, formou-se recentemente pela Faculdade de Medicina do Instituto Médico Universitário Inje, de Busan, e superou o exame de habilitação na Coreia. Em seu itinerário profissional e humano foi fundamental o encontro com o P. John Lee Tae-Suk (1962-2010), médico e Salesiano coreano.

    Como chegou a estudar medicina na Coreia?

    Fui afortunado. Quem me aconselhou foi o P. Lee. No Natal de 2009, recebi um telefonema de um médico que me perguntou se gostaria de estudar medicina na Coreia. Incialmente, pensei que deveria estudar em inglês, mas depois passei muito tempo para aprender a dominar também o coreano.

    Lembra-se do seu primeiro encontro com o saudoso P. Lee?

    Sim; aconteceu quando estava na escola média. Era coroinha em Tonj e o P. Lee convidou-me para participar da banda musical juvenil. Aprendi, então, a tocar flauta e violão. A nossa banda cresceu até chegar a 30 membros e foi-me confiada a parte do saxofone. Observava todos os dias o P. Lee que, depois da missa, ia ao dispensário médico e ajudava muitos pacientes e todos pareciam muito felizes. Disse-me então: “eu deveria ser como ele!”.

    Quem era o P. Lee para você?

    Passei com ele cerca de 8 anos. É difícil descrevê-lo com uma única palavra. O certo é que levava a alegria a todos em Tonj. Conversava com todos, jovens e anciãos, sem exceções. No início, foi-me difícil aproximar-me dele, sendo ele um padre, mas depois superei a distância. Quando penso nele como médico, penso que é incrível, sobretudo na Coreia, onde ser médico significa ter grande prestígio e riqueza. Mas o P. John renunciou a tudo isso para vir servir-nos no nosso pobre país. Foi a sua opção de vida.

    O que sonha para o seu futuro no Sudão do Sul?

    Meu primeiro objetivo é concluir o tirocínio e o período de residência e ser cirurgião. Gostaria de ser como o P. Lee, para servir outras pessoas em Tonj. Na verdade, desejava voltar logo depois da minha formatura, mas as autoridades acadêmicas da Universidade de Inje convenceram-me a completar toda a preparação médica na Coreia, desde que no Sudão do Sul ainda não existem as melhores condições para isso.


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