A Stranger’s Belief

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 “A Stranger’s Belief”

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Implications of BTS winning a BBMA

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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 “Implications of BTS winning a BBMA”

To Be a Mother

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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 “To Be a Mother”

The Power and Responsibility of the Internet

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”

Continue reading “The Power and Responsibility of the Internet”

All Things for Good

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.

Continue reading “All Things for Good”

And so here I am

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

Continue reading “And so here I am”

A Full Heart

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.

Continue reading “A Full Heart”

A Letter to my Chemistry Professor

Dear Professor,

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 “A Letter to my Chemistry Professor”

Arirang: The Layers of a Much Loved Song

//I wrote this as a response to “Song of Ariran” by Kim San and Nym Wales, a reading assigned from my Modern Korean history class. It was about the life of a Korean rebel who before the age of fifteen, lived in Tokyo, Manchuria, and Shanghai chasing after Korea’s independence among exiles and diaspora. It was the most personal response (because it was a free form reaction) and the most intimate response among the history major responses. Fair enough, because I am a Korean American, and these events can be traced back within my family history…

I knew before reading this piece that Arirang was in fact a sad song. It is a song that today is immediately linked to Korea. There are remakes of the song, but more along the lines of pop music, rap songs, or dance covers, rather than the original remakes that landed people in jail for the revolutionary lyrics. I originally knew Arirang from it’s version talking about lovers; reading this piece expanded my connotation of the song.

 

For some reason, I have a tendency to get emotional when I listen to Arirang, and this began before I knew the meaning of the lyrics. Something about the melody was yearning, raw, and powerful, never failing to draw tears from my eyes (which is ironic considering I never lived in Korea and don’t know all of its culture). Perhaps is it part of the inner Korean crying out, the blood of my ancestors? I’m not sure.

Continue reading “Arirang: The Layers of a Much Loved Song”

A New Appreciation for Ballads

I used to not like ballads/slow songs. They were too slow and sometimes had no meaning or emotion. It seemed like some were slow because there had to be a slow song on an album, as if fulfilling some quota. I also thought that ballads were only for when someone was sad. Ballads were almost always about love, anyway. Why listen to someone mourning over one sided love over a breakup? Please, I don’t need any more angst in my life.

But now, I’m appreciating ballads more. When I do find a good ballad, I feel like it’s finding a shining jewel. The emotions are all there, sparkling and wrapped in beautiful colors that seep through the song. And then it’s not the emotions or the tempo that matter; it’s the combination of everything that makes it beautiful.

Continue reading “A New Appreciation for Ballads”