For the past few weeks, I’ve been spending about 4-6 hours a week in a language exchange — with my Korean sister. I stop by her house on my way to work.
It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. I am SO thankful. Really, I could just cry, I am that thankful. My heart is so full. (And I have the cutest 2-year-old nephew who LOVES ME.)
I found out that since we made this time to just sit down and talk, we can talk about almost anything, despite neither one of us being even close to fluent in each other’s language. It is a matter of patience and wanting to communicate.
She’s two years younger than I am, meaning my mom was pregnant with her in Korea right about the time my adoption was finalized in the U.S.
She’s been telling me a lot about how she grew up. I hear a lot about my mom and her hardships in Korean society and how my sisters grew up. Really, it was horrible. Like you can’t even imagine how horrible and for how long it was horrible, the were so poor… Sometimes on my way to work I cry thinking about how we all paid such a terrible price for being different in places where different people are just not welcome. That’s the Korean society and rural Minnesota aspect…
We also talk about politics and whatever else is on our minds. Today we talked about North Korea and how she was “brainwashed” (she used that word, in Korean) at school into believing that all communists were bad, and all communists lived in North Korea. She was surprised to learn later that there are communists all over the world! ha ha ha
As it turns out, my sister also likes to write. I think that’s cool. I hope she writes a book one day. I didn’t tell her that yet.
Also, do you know how when people cook, their food always looks somewhat the same? For instance, my American sister’s food all sort of has that same look. It’s something about presentation or the way they use a knife. Weirdly enough, my Korean sister’s cooking has the SAME LOOK that my American sister’s cooking has, although neither one of them has any idea how to cook each other’s dishes. Anyway, I think that’s cool too.
Something that I’ve learned that has been a huge relief is that my sister hates the same things that I hate about Korean society. I will not make this a bitch-fest, but those who’ve lived in Korea or know people who have lived here probably know what I’m talking about….
So our mutual annoyance with certain aspects of Korean culture is very affirming to me. That’s because I always second-guess myself about making negative judgements on Korean society, because I know I am looking at Korean society with Western eyes. But GOLLY my sister thinks all the same things suck and SHE’S KOREAN. So I’m glad we have some cross-cultural agreement. The patriarchy universally sucks (along with other things like narrow-minded Korean people who judge my sister even today because she didn’t go to college, etc. Jerks.). I could go on but I shan’t.
Hooray! All three of us sisters here miss our mom so much and wish she were here. Our mom was so poor for so long that we all really long to spoil her rotten now. She would only wear fur coats and eat the best food, never ride public transportation and never work another day in her life! We’d take her on vacations and show her just how much fun life can be.