808 State! (aka Hawaii)
Mini-bio: Born /raised in Hawaii (the wonderful Cambridge weather is making me wonder why I left); at Harvard; Concentration (fancy Hahvahd speak for major): Human Development and Regenerative Biology (basically, stem cells)
So I did ostensibly follow the Model Korean Girl path: got good grades, did every extracurricular (ok, I skimped on the volunteering… don’t tell!) got into Harvard, and the best is yet to come (yep, you guessed it: Med school XD)
I would say that I am a paradox: I am proud of my Korean heritage, I love the cuisine (one of my dreams is to be HALF as good a cook as my mom), and I confess I listen to kpop as a guilty pleasure. On the other hand, there are times when I am not proud of being Korean, mainly with regards to the “sheeple” mentality of most Koreans. I could be generalizing, but I just hate hearing “everyone else was doing it,” which is often in Korea (case in point: mushroom cuts). I think my aversion to it comes from being hyphenated—my American perspective allows me the distance to step back point out the flaws inherent in Korea (and vice versa).
Anyway, to illustrate: during the Vancouver Winter Olympics, I cheered for Kim Yu-na, and felt vindicated when she beat Japan’s Mao Asada, but also cheered mightily for Japanese-American Mirai Nagasu. I was less than a paragon of Korean-American first generation-ness (defined as born/bred/raised here since before memory). I fought with my parents to continue playing both flute and piano, not because I was particularly good at either, but because I enjoyed the relationships with teachers and friends that I had cultivated and I truly enjoyed them. How many Koreans do you see voluntarily playing in marching band (against their parents’ wishes)? By that same token, I didn’t do prissy sports like running, or bowling (ok, I know running can be hard, but those girls with ice packs on their shins after running a mile? WEAK). Nope, I took up judo (parents wouldn’t let me do Taekwondo; I wonder why), and kendo (NOT kumdo; I yell “DO,” not “HUHRIYA”), and contemplated wrestling.
I confess I was never the best at anything. My dirty little secret was/is I was always just hovering above average, and the rest of it was just trying hard. I’m still not the best at anything; here at Harvard this is even more the case. The only thing I’m best at is being me, and wanting to learn—and what better place than Harvard? On a tangible level, our library system is one of the largest in the world, second only to the Library of Congress (oops, the tour guide in me is showing. Yes, I am a tour guide. For real.). On a more sophisticated level, I have relocated 5000 miles away to a completely different, urban place, and the people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had are amazing.
I guess I’ll end with one last secret: Harvard the name is over-rated (i.e. the H-Bomb). Harvard the experience is priceless (i.e. realizing that I want to become Middle Eastern so I can order at will from menus that I can’t pronounce). Anything can be a Harvard; it just depends on what you make of it. So all you Korean girls who don’t get in, IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. I’m not saying this because I’m “in and have nothing to worry about,” but because you will go to a good school, take what you take, give what you give (to quote Lily Allen), and build a life. Whether you build a Life or a living depends not on your summa, or your school, but on your spirit and attitude.
I guess what I’ve tried to say in a roundabout way is that I refuse to be typecast as the typical good Korean girl who’s living the Korean-American dream, despite all the factors that plug me into that category. Although if you do, I won’t blame you. After all, if I don’t get into Harvard Med, IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD… not.
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Age 27 | Northern California
GAP Management / Mixed Roots Foundation Board Member
Age 30 | Seoul, Korea
Age 35 | Daegu, Korea/ Honolulu, HI
military spouse, mother, crafter, hopeful child law attorney
Age 29 | Pittsburgh, PA
Age 24 | LA, the Golden State :)
Age 21 | Baltimore, MD
Student, Christian, Artist