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
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’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
My heart is so full.
I didn’t understand this phrase when I first heard it, but I get it now; my heart is so full and it’s a beautiful, wonderful, marvelous thing.
My heart is full with names, faces, smiles, laughter, memories, the taste of strawberry ice cream, the sweat from an intense game of ping pong, laughter as I learn the Arabic alphabet, the satisfaction of properly picking an apple, the sweetness of a long overdue cupcake run, the warmth from a smile from a stranger, the slight crinkle in eyes that hint to a fond memory.
I didn’t know that I could pour out into so many different lives and absorb this much. I’m amazed that my heart has this much capacity, and it doesn’t feel like I’m going to dry up any time soon; it rather feels like I’ve only scratched the surface. There are so many wonderful people in the world, people that God wants me to meet, people with fascinating stories and beautiful smiles.
When I heard your voice at the cafe, I felt as if I was somehow transported back to my first semester freshman year, in your Chemistry class of one hundred odd Honors students. I remember how passionate your voice was as you taught us about bonds and solutions as if they were the most fascinating thing in the world, which, to you, they were. And although I have never liked Chemistry, when I heard the excitement and reverence in your voice as you shared with us a snippet of your field of expertise, I started to respect and honor Chemistry for the first time. I still do not like it to this day but I can respect it for the field it is and the people who have dedicated their lives to the field.
I wanted to thank you for teaching Chemistry so passionately, but you were in a conversation with another professor. I hope that this letter will be enough to share with you the impact you had on my life, in a way that you probably didn’t anticipate. Continue reading
It’s frustrating when you want to talk to someone out of instinct, but then you
I mean, of course you can
but the ability to do something versus if it’s right (appropriate, fitting for the time being)
is something very different than permissibility.
Things change so fast, don’t they? When once, not too long ago, you let yourself pour out, no inhibitions because you trusted someone because you knew that they would be there to care, no matter what (or so they said)
and then one day, that’s taken away from you-
what do you, what are you supposed to do
with all the words hanging in your mouth, ready to burst?
Should you just let them expire? Don’t those thoughts and emotions deserve some moment of life?