South Korea, Day One
When we arrived we were welcomed by my cousins and my mom who had flown in from DC the week before. It was nice to see friendly faces in the crowd of people. My mom is the one in the center of the picture with her arm pointing to the right guiding us where we are supposed to go.
After we were picked up, along with all our massive amounts of luggage, we were wisked away to my uncle’s home in Jayang-dong neighborhood in Seoul where we were surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins I had not seen in decades. Before sitting down to eat we looked over pictures and talked about what I remember as a child and my life in the states. I enjoyed catching up and spending time with my family. I was given so many compliments about how well I speak Korean. That I converse as if I had never left and that I have the accent and pronunciation of a native. This makes me grateful for being required to speak Korean in our home and all those Saturday Korean classes I was forced to attend all my life. It also motivates me to learn more and realize how important it is to teach Korean to Michael, Zoe and Ty.
They had prepared a home cooked Korean traditional meal of pork belly, rice and side dishes. We spent several hours catching up and eating some amazing food. All the greens and peppers you see on the table were from my uncles rooftop garden where he grows all types of lettuce in ceramic pots. Talk about fresh!
For me it was great arriving to the country I was born and had not visited in 28 years. I immigrated to the states when I was seven and only returned once when I was twelve. Thinking about how long it has been and the family that still lives here I realize how much of my family’s life I have missed. I haven’t seen and interacted with my mom’s side of the family in decades and makes me sad and appreciate the sacrifices my mom has had to make to a life in the states. My dad has siblings in the states and I grew up seeing them all the time. My mom’s family is very close, ten times closer then my dad’s side of the family. It breaks my heart when I think about the time my mom has spent away from them. My mom is the youngest of the siblings. She has two older sisters and three older brothers, she did have a younger sister who died tragically years before I was born and it is never talked about in the family. My mom’s oldest sister is twenty years older then my mom and she was more like a mother figure to her growing up. It has been eight years since my mom saw her family and you can tell she is so excited to be with them but sad at the same time. Sad at the time that has past and the time she has spent away from them. This trip has made my mom and I both realize that it is so important to keep connected with family no matter what the distance or the cost. It has made me truly appreciate the sacrifices my parents made to leave their country, family, and friend to make a better life for me and my sister. It has made me grateful that I can make this trip and share this experience with Michael, Zoe and Ty.