Monday Short: Minority

“If you haven’t been the minority before, welcome to the club.”

In Central Kentucky, I was almost always the majority. I was white and adhered to some form of the Christian religion (Though I am Protestant, Catholicism is the dominant stream of Christianity in Washington County, Kentucky). I really never think about my race frequently. People in rural Kentucky don’t often ponder the meanings of race relations. It’s not something that appears often, if even at all.

Now, in Korea, I’m the minority.

At the beginning of Orientation, a speaker representing a racial minority in the United States said that if we were never part of a minority, we were now. Welcome to the club.

At my school, I am the only non-Korean individual. This morning at a school assembly, I realized that I was the only non-Korean present. However, despite being welcomed to the “club” of minority status, I don’t really feel as if I’m a minority here in Korea. Sure, I catch people staring for a few seconds, but then they go about their merry way. A student informed me that I had really white skin, while others were blown away by the fact that my eyes were blue. This isn’t news to me or surprising. I was prepared for these kind of remarks during Orientation.

Perhaps the most alienating aspect of living in Korea is the language barrier. During teacher meetings, I sit at my desk and try to harvest words that I know. At church, it’s the same process, except for an hour. Despite my attempts to learn Korean during Orientation, it seems as if my language skills only scratch the surface of language learning and acquisition.

Regardless, I am a minority here in Korea. I am a different kind of person and I hope that my differences allow for cultural exchange.

Geon bae from a different kind of south,

Sarah

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3 thoughts on “Monday Short: Minority

  1. Learning what it is like to be a “minority” will be beneficial to you when you return to the States. I’m glad that you are getting this experience. It can be both enlightening and humbling. Take what you are learning in this experience and apply it to when you return. Perhaps, you’ll be able to inspire people in Washington County to recognize what it’s like to be a minority.

    • This has truly been an eye-opening experience. I really have to rely on the mercy and compassion of strangers to help me get around when needed. I never thought I’d see the day where a 13-year-old would have to help me navigate the city bus system,

      I truly hope that when I return, I’ll be able to share what it’s like to finally be “different” and how important it is to show kindness to strangers. It would be easy for Koreans to ignore me, but they choose not to, despite my different appearance. This is perhaps the most important lesson of all that I can share with those back home.

      • That’s a message our community certainly needs to hear, and I love that you are willing to share it when you get back. Don’t stop the good work!

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