Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Experience in Culture

While I was home over the weekend, I found out that I would be having lunch after church on Sunday with a group of students from South Korea. No one really knew much about it, but I was excited about getting to meet people from a different culture.

On Sunday, we found out that they were here for two weeks on an exchange program between their school in South Korea and Indiana University of Kokomo School of Nursing. This is the 7th year that IUK has been part of this exchange. The five girls, Sojin Kim, Hyeongju Kim, Hyejin Park, Hyojun Park, and Ahrang Song, ranging in age from 21-23 came with their professor, Dr. Hyo Soon Jang, to experience school at an American university. They arrived January 17 and are leaving tomorrow the 30th to go visit Chicago before heading back home.

Since the Director of Nursing at IUK goes to my home church, the girls came with her on Sunday. We were introduced to them, but we were not told the name of their school right away. I just assumed that it was some Korean name that none of us would be able to pronounce anyway. I couldn't even pronounce the girls' names! Later we found out that their school had been founded as The Jesus University School of Nursing in South Korea. Over the years the name has changed several times from Margaret Pritchard School of Nursing to Margaret Pritchard College to Margaret Pritchard University. Recently, they decided to go back to their original name of The Jesus University.

During lunch, we found out that the girls had a love for soups, fruits, and vegetables. They also found their love of junk food while they were here. It was just another way for them to fit into our culture. Americans are probably the most unhealthy eaters in the world. We will see if they miss our wonderful foods such as triple chocolate cake once they get home.

While they may prefer the healthier foods to our unhealthy yet delicious snacks, one thing will always connect girls together. That is fashion. One of the girls, Ahrang, came up to me while I was arranging the vegetable tray just to say that she really liked my shoes. This gave us a little bit of a conversation starter, so it was really fun for me to get to talk to her for a little bit.

Before they left after lunch, the girls presented my pastor, Keith Treadway, with a gift for Korea. He opened it, and inside was a wall hanging with the South Korean flag and some Korean writing on it. We never figured out what it said since it was written in older Korean characters, but it was still neat to see how different their language was from ours.

Meeting these girls was a really fun experience for me. I always enjoyed getting to know the foreign exchange students in high school, so this was no different. I think part of this has to do with my love for travel. My goal is to someday travel the world. Hopefully I will get to go see some of my new friends in their hometowns like they got to see me.

The Band Plays On

In high school, band was a big part of my life. I did marching band, concert band, and pep band each year. I also did some jazz band and winter percussion. Each year, the pep band hosts an alumni night at one of the basketball games in January. This is a time for past Maconaquah band member and also alumni of other schools to get together to reconnect and share their love of music.

This year's alumni night was on Saturday. Being my first time as part of the alumni, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go home for the game. I had always gone before, but that was because I always knew that some of my friends would be there. Sure I still knew some of the current members, but it was still going to be different than it was before. My parents kept telling me that they thought it was a good idea for me to go. My mom even talked to the director, and he said to tell me that I had to be there. Finally I called home on Friday night for someone to come pick me up, so I could go to the game.

When I got to practice before the game, I was immediately greeted by some old friends. I was so excited to see them. I was glad that my parents had talked me into coming. Then I heard someone behind me calling my name. It was my section leader from my freshman year. She was the person that I was most excited to see. She had been someone for me to look up to during my 8th and 9th grade years. She had played the piccolo like me, and I wanted to be able to play as well as she did someday. With what she taught me during those years, I was able to take her place as the piccolo player after she graduated and also became section leader in my senior year.

The turnout that night was bigger than I expected. I think we had more alumni than I remember from any other year. After going over the songs that we would play during the game, we headed down to the teachers' lounge for some snacks and a trip down memory lane. Each year, the lounge is decorated with old pictures and memorabilia from the years gone by. This year, pictures from my graduating class were added. It was just a fun time to get to look through the pictures at how the group has changed over the years. There were even some pictures of my director's years in band.

It wasn't just my old band friends that I got to reconnect with that night. I was surprised to see a couple of my other friends that I graduated with. I got to talk with my friend, Kayla, who now plays basketball for Indiana University South Bend. Her brother still plays on the high school team, so she had come down to support him in his game. It was good to hear from her about how her season was going since I don't get to see her play anymore.

In all, I was glad that I got to participate on alumni night. If your school has a night like this, I would encourage you to go. If not, find a school around you that does. It's fun to go back and enjoy some of your old hobbies. You never realize how much things meant to you until you don't have them anymore.