I was never confident of my Korean language ability.
It wasn’t because of something someone said to me; rather, most Koreans would exclaim that my Korean was good, but I think that might have done with them knowing that I’m Korean-American and thus not expecting me to be able to speak in Korean at all.
No, I always felt like my lack in Korean was a handicap. I stressed out when I watched something without subtitles. I even remember watching a movie with my parents and reading the subtitles on a different screen, my eyes darting back and forth between the actual movie and my subtitles.
Recently, I’ve tried to intentionally not use subtitles. And let me tell you, it’s like an itch that I constantly want to soothe, but then I remind myself that when I’m talking with Koreans or watching a show with Koreans, I can’t pause that moment. I can’t pause life and make it feel comfortable to me, I can’t jot down vocab in the moment and force everything around me to bend to my Korean language proficiency. Continue reading
I felt underqualified to be there. People walked around in nice clothes while I wore a nice shirt and jean shorts. Over there, an established businessman talking to a professor. And over there, business cards being exchanged and collected into an impressive stack. I didn’t really have much to offer; I’m an undergraduate rising senior not in business, engineering, or medical school, but in International Studies and on top of that, hoping to be in a creative field, writing, to boot. So when I’d get swept into a conversation, they’d turn and ask who I was, then usually turn back to the conversation they left briefly to see if I was of any interest. Usually, not. Which didn’t really bother me as I knew, going in as an undergraduate with a creative bend, would be the result.
Still, to be among so many brilliant people was exhilarating. Just hearing a Mandela Washington Fellow explain their business or what brought them to Iowa City for the six week long program gave me new ideas to explore and a burst of energy and inspiration. I got to meet a radio host from Zimbabwe, a chef from Liberia, farmers from Benin, someone in the medical field from Angola. My world simply grew larger as I listened to them speak about their country and their profession. In short, I was in awe.
But then one time, after I brought out my French to some Francophone Africans, when someone asked me what I did and I responded (in short) that I liked to write about culture and identity, he asked me to send him some short stories.
I froze, not sure if I heard him correctly. I awkwardly chuckled, saying that I did more poetry than short stories and without missing a beat, he told me to send some poetry then, instead.
I have never been asked before to send my writing to anyone. I usually send my writing to friends or to apply for something. Never had a stranger been curious in the fact that I write things. Continue reading
Last night, history was made. Today as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, all of a sudden, I saw video clips by CNN International, Buzzfeed, NowThis, and other such websites that had seven familiar faces on them. And then, the articles, one after another trying to figure out who BTS is, how’d they even get here, what is ARMY, etc etc
BTS, or Bangtan Boys or, in the original Korean, 방탄소년단, were the first K-Pop group to be invited to the Billboard Music Awards ceremony. They won the Top Social Media Artist, a position that also had artists like Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and Shawn Mendes. PSY was the last Korean artist to be invited, in 2013, for his smash hit “Gangnam Style”.
As someone who instinctively analyzes everything and is in a major that encourages such mentality, I naturally saw this as both an exciting event as a BTS fan and also as a social scientist in training. Allow me to unwrap the BBMA win and it’s implications in several fields: Continue reading
This is a picture of the four generations of women in my family: me, my great-grandmother who just turned one hundred, my grandmother who still does research for nursing and flies back and forth from South Korea to the US, and my mother who, quite frankly, watches over us all.
For the longest time, I felt like I was missing out on the whole mother-daughter thing. People and friends around me went on and on about how they were like best friends with their mom and I didn’t really feel like that. My mom and I had, in fact, not the smoothest relationship for a while. But then, God stepped in and how my mother has changed has been an incredible testimony for me that God exists and is real. But more than that, I realized that the women in my family are actually very strong and extremely resilient. Continue reading
I think I’m going to integrate TED talks into my life more. I realize now that I watch a lot of random videos as break (usually funny videos/music videos/reaction videos) but I can surely also fit in a video to make me think and to expand my world in my YouTube break session.
I watched this video today titled “Ten Reasons to Stop Apologizing for your Online Life”
I’ve been meeting with professors within the past week and it’s been an incredible time to just pause and realize how much I’ve grown since freshman year and how things have unfolded so beautifully to now. All I can really say is that God is faithful cause I could have never organized these things on my own.
Last Thursday I met up with my chemistry professor from freshman year. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, I’m still not the biggest fan of chemistry, but I’m a big fan of this professor. In fact, I wrote a letter to him that I actually got to give to him in person during the Honors Society induction ceremony (he was the key note speaker; not even surprised). He was so touched by the letter that he treated me to coffee and he told me about his journey to become a chemistry professor and let me just say, passion is unbound. His excitement was contagious and his voice was incredulous as he described how happy coincidences lined up to lead him to where he is now.
And so here I am,
where I wanted to be / while I longed to know that
a. I would get over the past
b. I would find a morsel of something that resonated in me
c. my hopes were not in vain and would be rewarded and fruitful
Now everything seems sharper, clearer, even if the horizon is still slightly blurred
but it’s beautiful now, the mix of colours shifting, dipping into each other, mesmerizing, tantalizing, shimmering in hope, drenched in promise