Simply because they look different, it does not mean that they do not have the same human needs and desires as you have.
Teasing and bullying are bad enough. However, ignoring as if they do not exist is worse.
Inclusion, not exclusion, is extremely important in daily life.
As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Soon Bock Moon Wallis.
Soon grew up in poverty during the post-war period of Korea. As a polio survivor, she had to endure many extreme hardships and face the challenges of physical disability. She did, however, excel academically and completed her BA and MA degree in Psychology from the renowned Seoul National University. She came to the United States of America with a student visa and completed another MA degree in Counseling & Guidance. Upon completion of her higher education in Missouri, she has had successful careers not only as a Testing Psychologist with the Nevada State Vocational Rehabilitation Bureau but also as a Director of Testing at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. Throughout her career, she devoted herself to advocating for the welfare of the disabled. At the age of 68, she retired from full-time employment. In 2019, she self-published a memoir titled “Don’t Walk Fast” and this year she published a short fiction titled “Little Person’s Big Journey”, highlighting the struggles and life achievements of a dwarf girl. Both books are available through Amazon.com. She currently lives in a fabulous retirement community in Henderson, Nevada and works part-time as a Fitness Monitor.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
While growing up, I was subjected to constant teasing and bullying from other kids, simply because I was different with a limping gait. When medical consultation was finally sought for the first time at the age of fourteen, a doctor told me that there’s no cure for polio. He then strongly urged that I must learn to walk slowly in order to minimize my noticeable limp. In his own words, nobody would want to marry a girl with a physical disability. As a sensitive teenage girl at the time, his unusual advice was so shocking and traumatic that I decided to fight against the discrimination and social stigma the disabled face everyday.
Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?
The Korean war broke out in 1950, which resulted in battle deaths at 33,652 and non-battle deaths at 3,262. However, the most significant human toll during the war was a polio epidemic ravaging the country. Countless innocent victims died, and those who were lucky enough to survive were left with paralyzed limbs. I was one of the lucky survivors who became physically crippled. Whenever I was teased or bullied because of the residuals of polio, I became more determined to not let social discrimination stop my life goals.
Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness?
Since most kids excluded me socially, I made “books” my best friends. I spent most of my time reading and studying. As a result, I did excel academically,
What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?
You should neither blame yourself nor apologize for your disabilities. Also, you should not feel embarrassed. Instead, you must accept the disabilities and embrace how to cope with the limitations.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My mother who unselfishly took care of my bed-ridden father for more than 10 years, who struggled to feed my family, and who inspired me to study hard in order to get out of poverty.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have tried to shed light on life struggles of the disabled, by highlighting their achievements in my writings.
Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.
- Simply because they look different, it does not mean that they do not have the same human needs and desires as you have.
- Teasing and bullying are bad enough. However, ignoring as if they do not exist is worse.
- Inclusion, not exclusion, is extremely important in daily life.
- Despite the functional limitations that disabilities can cause, the disabled have many strengths that can enrich their lives as well as society.
- People in the community can contribute to how well a disabled individual can cope. We need a whole community effort as a society to be open and accepting of those with disabilities.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life”.
-Helen Exley, Author
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
Bill and Melinda Gates. They not only devoted themselves but also invested a significant amount of their fortune in an effort to eradicate human suffering caused by illnesses on a global scale.