just some random thoughts here and there
In the summer of 2020, my family fled America’s rising tide of COVID-19 infections to what we thought would be safe harbor in South Korea. Though we were greeted by the security of family and familiarity, the theaters, arcades, and parks I frequented during past visits were closed. Only historical sites, with their imposing architecture and eroded facades, provided enough outdoor space for continued visitation.
The opportunity to visit these museums and exhibits in a historical moment as the pandemic felt more poignant: culture was withstanding the test of time itself. While this wasn’t my first time visiting these places, I took more time, gave more thought, and recognized deeper beauty at each historical site. This reflective approach paralleled but also expanded my study of Korean history and culture through Stanford’s Sejong Korean Scholars Program, during which I had written a paper comparing the education systems in South Korea and the United States. Now, I acted upon my cultural research - taking charge of my cousins’ enrichment and providing both the U.S. individual intellectual challenge alongside South Korean discipline and collective knowledge formation. Simultaneously, I found new meaning in trying more traditional Korean food, wearing the hanbok, and even getting to play the taepyeongso. These were all testaments to the enduring nature of culture, the bedrock of community.
Before my cultural renaissance, I had always limited my definition of community to the people who were physically next to me: my classmates, my MUN teammates, or my orchestra stand partners. However, during the long reflection time period COVID-19 has given me, I realized “community” isn’t always limited to people who are physically near; “community” also stretches to people sharing the same culture and heritage as I do, even if they’re thousands of miles away.