The lessons I’ve learned traveling over the years have helped shaped who I am. While I was born in South Korea where my American father and my Korean mother met, our family laid roots in the United States. Growing up in a multicultural family (and often among very few other blended families), I was constantly balancing life between both worlds and it took me a long time to own and be liberated by the feeling that I belonged to both and neither at the same time. Eventually I realized I could pick and choose which parts of each culture I wanted to make up my way of living -my own culture.
I was raised with one foot in the Midwest and the other in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after my parents divorced. While I think of both as home, the American heartland is a very different place than Polynesia, and spending my formative years in both southern Illinois and Oahu, Hawaii was a blessing looking back. While it really is like Heaven on Earth, Hawaii is paradise to me because its people taught me to embrace my blended heritage. They encouraged me to celebrate what made me unique; what also connected me to so many others in this big beautiful world. The Islands have a special place in my heart for giving me confidence, a healthy dose of pride, and a tribe.
In my mid-twenties, I sold everything I owned and moved halfway around the world with nothing but a suitcase and a heart set on exploring my mother’s home country. Though I grew up with some Korean influence, experiencing Korea for myself and connecting with the people there was like discovering another layer of my own history and personality that I never knew was missing. Over time, I got used to and sometimes preferred the local way of doing things that at first confused or bothered me. As I came across customs I didn’t agree with, I looked into why it was the way it was and asked natives for their point of view to at least try to understand them better. Developing the capacity to understand a foreign land, its history, and its people is one of the most important life lessons I’ve ever learned.
I also made lasting connections with other internationals living and working in Korea and had the time of my life learning about the rest of the world, and sharing insights into mine, with the people who would become my oldest and dearest friends.
Immersing myself in continuous discovery abroad and being introduced to new circles of people from different backgrounds, careers, and at different stages of life has been a beautiful reminder that there is no one way to live it! Back in the States again, I’m still compelled to keep learning and loving our world heritage…This blog documents the beauty of a good adventure and the interesting places and perspectives I’m grateful to discover and share with you.