Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Day in Butare, Rwanda

When people ask me "What do you do in Africa?", I say, "We do all kinds of different things.  We stay at the Come and See Africa (CASA) House. We teach.  We visit."  I think I need to give you a little more detail than this terse answer,  so you can pray for us specifically.  Here is a list of things that I did today, on July 28, 2010

I got up around 4 am (sounds like I am a very diligent person), but not really.  My body is still confused from California time and Rwanda time. I check my email and prepare a sermon to share at the morning devotion. At 5 am, Jack the night watchman prepares the room for the morning devotion.  Adults usually sit on chairs, and children sit on the floor. Around 5:30 people start singing, I join them.  It was my turn to give a sermon this morning.

For this morning devotion, there were about 50 people.  We surprised them with warm milk, bread, and a hard boiled egg.   I wish you could see these delighted faces.  CASA gives them milk and bread twice a month, but this morning we added an egg.  The cost for all this?  About $15.  How  wonderful it is to see how our small resources can accomplish so much here.  

From 10 am to noon, we are having a VBS with kids.  The same kids who attended the monring service come back for VBS, and Tabi from Texas teaches.  

From noon to 1:30, Chris teaches at the NUR stadium. Several hundred are intently listening as Chris talks about dating and courtship.  

Around 2 p.m, we have a lunch (cooked bananas and rice), then rest a little before the evening class.

At 5 p.m every night, there is a class at the CASA yard.  There are about 300 students who are taking courses in biblical studies.  The space we are renting is a 4 bedroom house, with no inside space for a classroom, so they are meeting outside. These students are on fire for God, and they want to learn about God.  Their passion and dedication is amazing, and they touch my heart.

From 8 to 10 p.m, Chris teaches again at the stadium.  After the evening session, we have a late dinner (chips, rice, beef).  I probably sleep 3 to 4 hours a day, my body is tired, but my soul is renewed. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Visiting the bush churches

We visited three pastors who are starting churches in the bush.  Rwanda is a hilly country.  It is even called "The Land of A Thousand Hills".  I was glad that Paul is a great driver.  Tabi and I held onto each other as the car rolled up and down on those steep hills and valleys.  At one point, we had  to get out, so Paul could drive over big rocks.  After a few hours of a roller coaster ride, we reached our first destination.  

This is a typical bush church.  Actually, this is a better off one, since it has a roof.  Some of the churches do not even have a roof.  I was told that the Rwanda government now requires churches to have a roof, which makes many pastors scrambling to find funds to buy iron sheets.  We stayed at this church which Pastor Gilbert has planted about 6 months ago, it was wonderful to see Gilbert again on this trip.  I met him in 2002,  and lost touch with him.  Our purpose in visiting bush churches was to encourage them.  

We visited two more churches, driving through hills and valleys.  I held Tabi's hand tight and closed my eyes so as not to look down the steep hill.  Well, I should be grateful that I didn't have to walk to get there, whereas everyone we saw along the way was walking carrying heavy stuff on their head and on their back.  This church was started about two months ago,  so it didn't even have a roof.  They meet in the open air.  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Graduating Class of 2010.

July 24, 2010
Thirty-six students (34 men and 2 women) received their diplomas.  Students took 33 different courses during their three years of studying Theology and Christian Religious Education at the CASA Bible School.  These students are remarkable because they doubled their course load in order to get this diploma. They have committed themselves for three years to study the word of God seriously on top of their university study.
These remarkable students inspire me and challenge me in many different areas of my life. 

An average age of university students in Rwanda is around 25 years old, and their secondary education takes longer to complete then American education.  Especially for this generation of students (in the photo), their education was interrupted by the war and poverty.  Some of CASA students I talked to grew up in refuge camps where there is no school. 

University students take their education seriously, only about 3% of the population enters university.  Students who are in this CASA graduation picture have gone through the 1994 war when they were around 10 years old.  I am guessing that this generation will be the one who will work hardest to build their country, if the Korean history is applied to Rwanda.  I often see the CASA students approach to life is quiet different then many young people of their age from developed countries.  They express frequently and loudly their gratitude to God for their life, they often express that they are grateful and they are guilty at the same time for a fact that they have survived when many of their friends didn’t.  When you have seen the darkest evil in the humanity’s heart at a tender age, I am sure, there are lots of issues that have to be sorted out.  Then where do you go?  Who do you go to?

These students turned to God for answers, and dig deeper for the truth.  That is where CASA comes in.  Our goal is to create an environment where serious students can come together to discuss, to study, and to grow in the knowledge of God and themselves. As I talked to the graduating class of 2010, I am convinced that they found answers: they know whose they are, they have a clear purpose for their life, therefore hope for the future.

As they are being trained to be a leader, they are also being trained to be a servant.  When they soar as a leader for their country, they will have two wings to balance them.  They will become a servant leader.  I am honored and humbled to take a part in their life journey.  My husband and I  along with Pastor Paul and Pastor David are handing a diploma to each student at the graduation ceremony at NUR, on July 24th, 2010.

Picture book

July 22nd, Friday.
My favorite activity in Rwanda is attending the morning service every morning.  Around 5:30 in the morning, I hear light foot steps leading toward the CASA yard, and entering into the reception area. About 50 people including little children start their day with prayers and reading the word of God.  This morning, Chris used this awesome picture book for the first time.  Kids were excited to see the pictures.

Last summer, Chris hired a Rwandan artist to illustrate 36 bible stories, then ask a Rwandan pastor to translate English into Kinyarwanda. At last, our good friend,  Sandy put together fourteen hand-made books.  These kids have never seen picture books before, now they can even touch it.  I wish Sandy can see these delighted little kids.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How long does it take you to go to Rwanda?

People often ask me this question when they find out about my trip.  Here is my account of this year's trip.  

A friend from our church dropped us off at the airport at 8:45 p.m on July 19th.  We had four big bags to check in and two carry on.  Guess what? We had to pay 30 dollars for each bag. OUCH!  We passed the security checkpoint without too much trouble, and got on the red eye flight to DC.

We arrived at DC at six in the morning on July 20th, and claimed bags, hauled them to an Ethiopia Airline counter, check them in again. As soon as we were done with check-in, our older son who lives in DC showed up to say goodbye to us.  We saw a USO lounge right next to the Ethiopian counter, so we walked in.  A pleasant volunteer welcomed us in and we spent two hours in a comfortable lounge.  Just before we left the USO lounge, Chris went out to look for Tabitha who is going to Rwanda with us.  But he didn’t find Tabitha in the check-in area. I was beginning to worry about her.  At that moment, Tabitha called us, and is already at the gate.   We left DC at 10:30 am.

We had a lay over in Rome, after 10 hours of flight; we stayed inside the plane for almost two hours.  Then there was another 6 hours to flight to Addis Ababa. I tried to sleep, but I was coming down with cold of something.  I had a really bad headache.  We arrived at Addis Ababa in the early morning, waited another 4 hours to get on an airplane.  I think this was the hardest trip of all eleven trips that I made to Rwanda. We finally arrived in Kigali around 2 p.m on July 21st.  Our dear friends, Paul, David, and Frank, came to meet us at the airport.  Then we drove three hours to Butare.  So I was on the road over forty hours.  I left home at 10:30 p.m on July 19th and arrived in Butare at 2 p.m on July 21st.  My head still hurts, so I am not going to do the math at this time.  

Friday, July 16, 2010

Concert at four different locations in August

When I went to Korea last May, Professor Suh who is the leader of Allelluah choir team asked me if I could arrange their visit to SF area. My job was to find churches for them to perform, to provide food/lodging, to provide a tour of Bay Area, and transportations for them to get around.  The budget was zero. These people are paying their way to get here, and we need to do our part, host them.  I usually hate to ask anything to anyone.  But I could not do this by myself.  I had to ask people to join me to host this wonderful choir.

After many months of phone calls and explanation to many different people, a tour for them is set. Churches are excited for them to come and perform, and many volunteers are joyfully participating to make this concert tour happen. I learned several things while I am doing this project: 1) don't hesitate to ask people for help, 2) collaborate with others in order to get the best result, and 3) be flexible.

They will arrive at SFO on August 12th, and leave 18th.
They will perform at four different places:
1. August 13th @ 6 p.m, San Lorenzo
2. August 14th @ 5 p.m, Scotts Valley
3. August 15th @ 2 p.m, San Ramon
4. August 15th @ 5 p.m, Oakland

They Learned ABC of salvation

Originally uploaded by come and see africa
We had about 60 people attending our VBS every night. I was busy teaching my adult class, packing for Africa, and taking my nephews who are visiting from Oregon to Exploratorium, Muir Wood, and Golden Gate bridge. Even though, it was an insanely busy week, because it was fun, I am refreshed more than ever. I am ready to go to Africa, and teach teachers and mamas.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunbeam and Sunwoo are visiting us

They came to CA on Friday, their father went back up to Oregon right away.   Since then they have been with us, and they are such wonderful young men,  we have been so blessed to get to know our nephews.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

VBS time again

Our church runs a Vacation Bible School every summer.  It is a full blown program for a week for all ages, from 3 year old and up.   I am in charge of adult class.  I have fun doing different kinds of activities together, we socialize, eat, do craft projects, study Words, sing, and do games, and much more.  My students are from age 20 to 95 years old.  

I used to attend a VBS as a child, then became a VBS teacher while I was in college, then there was no more VBS in my life until I came to the First Southern. Nowadays, most churches don't have VBS program.  Kids have too many other activities to do during the summer,  I am told that that is one of reasons for the end of VBS for many churches. 

At our church, we decide to go upstream and resume the program 4 years ago.  There are almost 30 plus adult volunteers for the program every year, and we draw around 30 to 40 kids to the program.   I know that it is a lot of work for the low attendance, but it is good for us to continue to do it.  If one child can learn about the love of God through the program, that is truly worth of our effort.  So here we are.  

We are doing it again this year, from July 11th through July 16th.  We will meet at 6 p.m to 8:30 p.m every evening at First Southern.    Everyone will learn something new and we will have fun.  

Kindergarten class builds a church

Friday, July 09, 2010

Preparing to go to Africa

 We sent out the following letter to our friends last week, I want to extend this invitation letter to you, my  blog readers.  Come and See Africa, you will be changed with the experience.  

                                                                                                                                         July 4, 2010
Dear Friends of Come & See Africa,

It’s that time of year when Kim and I prepare ourselves for a mission to Africa.   This time we will be in Butare, Rwanda, from July 20 to August 2, 2010.  Perhaps the best way to describe our ministry is to share with you four things that we are packing along with us. 

First, we are packing along 50 pairs of reading glasses.  We carefully distribute these to elderly people in greatest need.  Simple lack of glasses can prevent a pastor from reading his Bible or a seamstress from completing her work.

econd, we are packing along 35 graduation tassels. Come & See Africa  operates a Bible school for university students at the National University of Rwanda.  On July 24, thirty-five young people will celebrate their graduation.  We rent the gowns, hand-make the caps, but we bring the tassels from America.

Third, we are packing along 7 “witnessing cloths” of our own design and creation.  Each cloth is beach-blanket sized and is printed in color with 36 panels of salvation history -- from the creation of the world to the last judgment.  These water-color pictures were painted by a Rwandan artist and are accompanied with short explanations written in English and in Kinyarwandan.  With this evangelism tool [which can be easily packed and displayed] we will teach the salvation history of Christ to children and to adults who cannot read.  We also have 30 “witnessing booklets” with the same color panels but with accompanying written words. 

Fourth, we are packing along about $6000 in cash.  Come & See Africa  is in the middle of a building program. We have committed to a facility of $300,000, but we are only one-half  way to the finish line.  The cash will enable us to begin putting up brick walls.  This campus house, to called the LightHouse, will be a beacon of light to the entire university community.   It will include two large classrooms, a chapel/auditorium, offices, a computer room, a music room, and several guest rooms.  The vision is there; the reality is on the way.

If I were to name a Fifth thing to bring along, it would be YOU.  Come and see Africa!  Come and see how the Spirit of God is moving among His children in Rwanda.   If you cannot join us, please support us.  We need your financial help to pack along glasses, tassels, witnessing cloths, and cash to build.  We need your help to spread the Gospel message around the world.

Blessings to you,   

Dr. Chris A. Foreman,    President of  Come & See Africa International

Monday, June 28, 2010

Block Party

Many people pass by our church and admire this New-England-style building with its stain glass and high bell tower.  But how do we move people from admiration to entrance?  How do we let our neighbors know that a lively group of Christians worships inside this quaint old church?   On June 25th, from 5 to 8 p.m., we welcomed our neighbors by inviting them to a block party.

Our head deacon Al drove the Block Party trailer to the church parking lot at 2 p.m.  We were eager to see what was inside.  We found a popcorn machine, snow-cone machine, a sound system, canopies, tables, a BBQ grill, bouncers, games, and much more.  Our church parking lot turned into a carnival within an hour.  We were in business. 

Soon country-western Gospel music was playing; a Korean BBQ lured in hungry visitors; a  puppeteer entertained children; nurses were taking blood pressure; door prizes were passed out; and we were even visited by a city fire truck.  We all had a fun!

 And the best part is this: more than half of the congregation came out to reach our neighborhood for Christ.  After the event, I heard words like, “successful”, “fun”, “hard work”.   Justin, a youth  in charge of the sound system said, “if we do this again, I want to do sound again”. Then Alex who was in charge of the games chimed in, “Yea, I want to do games again.  I had a blast!”  Kids who were jumping on the bouncer, shouted out “This is fun!”  So I know the block party was a successful event for both workers and attendees.  Everybody had fun!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Jeju Island

I can’t believe it is already the 4th day of my travel.  Now I am in Jeju Island.  We were separated from our tour group due to the airline schedule changes.  We arrived at Jeju airport at 3 p.m, and the tour guide took us to Goblin road, according to a folklore, the car drives on its own.  The folklore tells a story about a taxi driver who dropped a passenger at a remote village on a late night.  On his way back home, he stopped to take care of a nature’s call at a spot on this road.  In the corner of his eyes, he saw his car was driven away.  He was convinced that he saw a ghost drove his car.  Since then this road is called Goblin Road.  Our tour driver demonstrates it to us, the car moved for a few yards on its own.  The road seemed to me slightly uphill, and yet our car was moving forward toward uphill on its own.  I don’t know what this is all about, but Jeju tour companies need to have tourist spots like this to bring more tourists from the mainland Korea

On the second in the Island, we went to ride a submarine.  I never rode one before.  I got on a boat to get to the place where a submarine was waiting for us.  A young man who was dressed as a pirate greeted us and took picture of us before we walked down to a tiny hole to the submarine.  

We sat in a row facing the windows, and looked outside.  A man wearing his gear was luring fish with food, and all kind of tiny fish was following him around.  The guide told us that the big fish are scared of people, but little ones are not afraid of.  They are like humans.  We learn helplessness and fearfulness, as we get older.  Then we went to the deeper place and saw all kinds of underworld plants and corals.  I saw flowers, trees, and vegetations under the water.

We visited Sam Bul Sa.  Sam means three in Korean, Bul means Buddha, and Sa means temple.   At the temple, we saw thousands of paper lanterns hung around the temple area, preparing for Buddha’s Birthday celebration.

We walked up a winding, steep hill that leads to a cave.  Water drops were falling from the ceiling of the cave into a small well, people were lined up to drink water from a common cup.  Again, a story tells us that this water is considered to be special.  If a woman drinks this water, she will be able to conceive a child.  I don’t know what happens if a man drinks this water, or a woman who passed her time to conceive a baby.  I was afraid that I would be pregnant at my age, so I didn’t drink it. 

There is lots of folklore about woman in this island.  One particularly interesting story was about Halla Mountain, which Korean considers it as "Jeju Island is Hallasan; and Hallasan is Jeju." The mountain can be seen from all places on the island, but its peak is often covered in clouds.  Any way, a really big old woman lived in this island; she was so big that she used Hallasan as her pillow.  When she lay down at night, she used Hallasan as her pillow, and her feet reached to the ocean.  She had five hundred sons.  One day, she made red bean stew for her sons for supper.  As she stirs the stew, she fell into the huge pot, and she died. When her children came back from the field working all day, they ate mom’s delicious stew.  When they were full, they start looking for mother.  Where is she?  Oh, No, they found her at the bottom of the pot.  They moan for their mother for so long and hard that they turned into rocks.  People can see five hundred human figure rocks lined up in this mountain.  

Monday, June 07, 2010

Korea Prospering

I left Korea in 1974.  At that time, a family can take out $1000 from the country when they immigrate.  The country needed dollars.  My first month paycheck as a middle school teacher in 1973 was $100.  Now I was told that the first year teacher makes 40 times more than I was making.

It is wonderful to come home and see my friends are prospering.  I noticed my friends prefer “made in Korea”.  They also claimed that Korea is the most convenient place to live  in the world.  I believe them.  Things are done fast, and even a bowl of soup from a restaurant can be delivered to your home within 10 minutes.  Korea was not like this always.

Young people in 70’s wanted to get out of the country, seeking political freedom and economical prosperity.  We were afraid of speaking out our minds.  Some of my friends went to prison because they participated in student demonstrations against the government.  But now people are free to speak, democracy is prospering.  

A few months ago, Korea became a member of G20 nations.  I thought cost of living is high, and price a home is more expensive than USA.  I had to pay a modest hotel room for $120 a night.  My friends reminded me that if I want to buy a three-bedroom apartment in Seoul, I need about a million dollar.  My goodness, price of a home is more than San Francisco!  I found the following chart while I was touring Seoul, it was posted in a Seoul City Museum at KwangwhaMun Plaza.  It says income per capita in 1962 was about $300 and in 2007 was about $18,000.  It is increased 627 times.   I figure that it should be higher in 2010.  

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Chris and I are here in Korea.  We just finished our working part of this travel, and began the tour part. It was a gratifying experience to come back to my alma mater, Kyung Hee University after 36 years.  It has changed a lot, and yet many things stayed the same.  

As soon as I walked through the front gate, I saw the same tower with the same logo greeted me.  You can not avoid the logo even if you try not to ignore it, "문화세계창조", it can be translated into "Creating the Cultured World".   I couldn't find another logo that was a part of the campus at that time. "세계는 경희로경희는 세계로", it can be translated into "Kyunghee leads to the World and the World leads to Kyunghee".   

Some of the students snickered at this audacious logo. This was the time when few people could be on an airplane and go to abroad.  Come to think of it Koreans at that time didnt' travel much even within Korea.  We didn't have good roads and also decent transportation to get around the country.  The person who created that logo is a dreamer, and that person was Dr. Cho who was the founder of the university.

The education I got from Kyunghee wasn't about learning the content,   Although, it gave me a qualification to teach English at a middle school, I even taught ESL in America for 3 years in 1970's.  More importantly, I think I learned to dream.  I loved to strolled the campus and dream about what I wanted to become.   Since the University was pretty new,  construction was a part of the campus landscape and different academic disciplines were created all the time.  Something was in the air.

Dr. Cho Young Shik was the President and he was also  the founder of the University.  I never personally met the President of the University at the time, but his presence was everywhere on the campus.  He spoke to students once a month at the main building (see the picture above). We complained at the time as we stood under the hot sun, but even then I sensed that he is a dream catcher.

Dr. Cho was definitely trying to teach us more than academics. He often talked to the students at an assembly which we loathed, and we had to attend in order to get PE credits.  I didn't like it at the time, standing under the scorching sun and listening to him talking about utopia.  He talked about being a global citizen, contributing to humanity, living a worthy life, creating a great society through education,  and asking us to serve the nation and the world.

As I look around the campus, I am marveled at Dr. Cho's accomplishment.  One man's dream that is realized can changed lives of so many, and even changed the nation.  Anyone who has an interest in Kyunghee University's history, they can see Dr. Cho Young Shik's  hand prints everywhere.  I was sad to hear that this great man is very sick and he is hospitalized

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Soul of Seoul

Last week I returned from a visit. Korea has changed so much that I can hardly recognize the place, especially the capitol city of Seoul.   In fact, the shock I experienced in Seoul was similar to the culture shock on my first visit to America.  This time I was a foreigner in my own homeland.

Tall buildings were everywhere and all the stores looked alike.  The apartments all looked the same.  I marveled that anyone could find their own way home. Luckily I can speak Korean and when I got lost I was able to navigate through that thick forest of buildings.  Once I gave an address to a taxi driver and he could not find the place I was going.  He told me that there are over ten thousand people living in an average apartment complex, thus one needs to know the name of the building with a reference to a subway station.

Seoul is the one of the most populous cities in the world.  Almost half of South Korea's people live in the Capital Area.  I was dropped off  in the midst of the busiest part of Seoul; with a million people crowded within a few blocks. You can imagine my confusion.  While I was looking for directions, I read hundreds church signs. It was comforting to see that Seoul has a soul.  My friends told me that many Seoul churches have memberships of over ten thousand.  I can believe her after seeing all those church signs.

I am happy to report that Korea has become a Christian nation.  Korean Christians are passionate about winning souls and I can see the evidence of that.  When I was in college many years ago, I was the only Christian among my eleven college friends.  On this visit, I discovered that all eleven belong to either a Protestant or Catholic Church.  I visited my alma mater which is a secular university.  Yet Christ is lifted on campus by both Christian professors and students.  They share a passion to declare the Gospel and to win souls.  It was good to see my homeland become a prosperous nation, not only economically, but spiritually.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Children are our teachers

I have learned so much from my own children, here is a proof that children are great teachers if adults would let them.  A twelve year old girl is teaching us how to be good teachers and parents.  Here is some info about Adora: 
 "A voracious reader from age three, Adora Svitak's first serious foray into writing -- at age five -- was limited only by her handwriting and spelling. (Her astonishing verbal abilities already matched that of young adults over twice her age.) As her official bio says, her breakthrough would soon come "in the form of a used Dell laptop her mother bought her." At age seven, she typed out over 250,000 words -- poetry, short stories, observations about the world -- in a single year.
Svitak has since fashioned her beyond-her-years wordsmithing into an inspiring campaign for literacy -- speaking across the country to both adults and kids. She is author of Flying Fingers, a book on learning."

Friday, April 30, 2010

Where do I shop for my snacks in Africa?

Whenever we are in Africa, we visit our friends in Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi.  On our way to Brundi, we spotted this little shop on the road side.  It takes about 2 hours from Butare, Rwanda to Buzumbra, Burundi, and I look for something to munch on during the travel.  Here is my Safeway in Rwanda that I stop to buy my stash.  Peanuts are tasty, just as finger bananas.  And price is great.  A little bag of peanuts costs a nickle, a banana costs a penny, and a piece of bread costs 50 cents.  

I am thankful for writers who put their heart and soul in their works.

 I just completed an entry and sent it to the editor. One of my secret pleasure is reading books by ethnic authors, especially by Korean Americans.  I have almost every book that are written by Korean Americans, except by Younghill Kang and Richard Kim. Through this project, I learned about their books, I am on a mission to get these books. 

Korean American Literature

The first wave of Korean-American writers consisted of two intellectuals who were born in Korea; Younghill Kang and Richard Kim.  Younghill Kang was truly a pioneer Korean writer.  He wrote two biographical novels in the 1930’s.  His first novel, The Grass Roof (1931), took American readers into an unknown, exotic Korea.  His second novel, East Goes West (1937), shed light on the lives of Korean intellectuals who were then living in exile from Japanese-occupied Korea.  Three decades later, Richard Kim published his first novel The Martyred (1964)—about the Korean War experience. The Martyred was on the nation’s bestseller list for twenty consecutive weeks and was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature. 

The second wave of Korean-American writers were the children of immigrants who came to America earlier in the century. They were proud supporters of the Korean independence movement.  Mary Paik was born in Hawaii in 1905.  She was eyewitness to her parents’ harsh life as laborers in sugar cane fields.  She told her mother’s story in Quiet Odyssey: A Pioneer Korean Woman in America (1990).  Cathy Song in Picture Bride (1983) captured the disappointment, resilience, and strength of the first wave of Korean immigrant women who came to Hawaii as picture brides.  Ronyong Kim in her book Clay Wall (1987) depicted the Korean immigrant’s life in early 20th century California.

After 1990 there was a third and explosive wave of Korean American literature. The children of Koreans who immigrated in the 1970’s grew to adulthood with English as their primary language.  They provided a unique voice of growing up in two cultures.  Unlike wave one and wave two writers, these younger writers delved into issues of racism, gender, and power. The quantity and quality of these younger writers makes the current landscape of Korean American literature rich and interesting. There are too many quality authors to mention in all, but here is a short list of authors who grace the current literary scene as Korean American authors; Chang Rae Lee --Native Speaker (1995), Susan Choi -- The Foreign Student (1998), Nora Okja Keller--Comfort Woman (1997), Leonard Chang --Fruit ‘n’ Food (1996), and Patti Kim -- A Cab Called Reliable (1997).  The premier source of information concerning Korean American Literature is Dr. Elain H. Kim who is professor of Asian American Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley.

Will there be a fourth wave of Korean-American writers?  Perhaps, but perhaps not.  After three generations on American soil, people with Korean surnames may be writing no differently than their fellow American authors.

Further Reading
Kim, Elaine H.  “Roots and Wings: An Overview of Korean American Literature 1934-2003”, in Korean American Literature, edited by Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Grinker, and Larsen, 2003

Fenkl, Heinz Insu. “The Future of Korean American Literature”, Korean American Literature, edited by Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Grinker, and Larsen, 2003

Kim, Ronyoung, Clay Walls, Sage Harbor, NY: Permanent Press, 1987

Song, Cathy, Picture Bride, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983

Lee, Mary Paik, Quiet Odyssey: A pioneer Korean Woman in America, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990

Monday, April 26, 2010

Visit to Taiwan

I was a guest speaker at National Chung Cheng University tonight -- via Ellumiate.  I was sitting in my office at 5 p.m, CA time, and they showed up 8 AM at their time.  As you see on the wall clock, I finished talking at 9:20 AM their time.  I talked about ways to use blogs, wikis, Youtube in the classroom.  We need to engage students with their own learning,  help them to use technology that they already use outside of the classroom.  They are constantly connected with others with their mobile phone, facebook, and other social medias.  My teaching has been changed because of my experience of learning with these tools.  One of the skills we need to teach our students is to help them to aware of their own learning processes, thereby they learn to learn.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Safe Shelter

(May 2010 Newsletter)

The weather has been capricious lately. Yesterday, the afternoon sun warmed our condo up to 90 degrees, but this morning was chilly and damp. As I was settling into my armchair, enjoying my morning coffee with newspaper, I suddenly heard a noise from outside the window. I thought someone was scattering salt over our veranda. It was hail! But even before I stood to look, the hail turned into showers. This is a pretty rare happening in the Bay area.

Here in California, we are blessed with good year-round climate, but in many places, people live in the midst of harsh and unpredictable storms. Thunder, lightening, downpours, hail, and blizzards are commonplace. When I hear thunder and lightening, I know a storm is approaching. I quickly find the nearest shelter to weather the storm and stay dry. I know that if I ignore the signs, a storm might catch me and I might catch cold, or even suffer from pneumonia.

Just as we run into storms in nature, we run into storms in life. When you see a life storm approaching, what do you do? Do you run to a safe place? Or do you ignore the signs and suffer the damage it causes? As children of God, we are fortunate that we have a safe shelter – a hiding place – to run to in times of need.

Korean Poetry class

I think Korean language is a poetic language. In our last poetry class, we read poems written by Mr. Kim who taught the class. The title of poems are byul 별 하나, 별 둘, 별 셋.... the Korean word "byul (별)" is "star" in English. When we translate the byul into the English word star, the poem loses flavor. If the word is a person, the effect is almost like losing an arm or a leg. When I hear the word "byul", it brings up so much more than the word 'star". Same as the word hanul 하늘 and the word "sky" does. I can say so much more with few words in Korean. This is why I prefer to write poems in Korean, and prose in English. It has been fun to play with Koran words for a few months.

I miss my mother

I am planning to go to Korea in May. During this trip, I am going to visit my home town, a little village where I lived till I was 10 years old. My mother was a stranger to this little village. She was a refugee from North Korea during the 1950 Korean war, she fell in love with my father who was the first son of a rich land owner. His family rejected her with many different reasons; one of reasons was that she was a "modern woman" which means that she was exposed to the western thought. They called a woman a modern woman, if she was educated, wear a dress or skirts instead wearing a hanbok, wear a short-cut hair style, and she chose her own mate.

Mother has been gone for 5 years now, and I miss her more and more as the time goes by.

Modern Woman

You taught me how to walk

Like a lady

On our monthly outing to the village market

I would hop ahead of you

Hurrying to get to the bustling market place where

Vendors called my attention with their exotic wares

Pulling on your skirt

I was impatient with your measured walk

Instead, you stopped in the middle of the road

You told me to watch those scurrying people

Pointing how they walked

"Like a grasshopper, when a woman sways her hips and shoulder"

"Like a duck, when a women walks with her feet point outward"

Then you showed me the proper way to walk

"Step one foot over another as though you are walking on a rope in the air"

I watched you closely for the first time

On that dusty, gravel road

Lined with tall poplar trees

Wondering where the road leads

You were different even to my seven year-old eyes

You had schoolgirl hair-cut when others had rolled their hair up

You had a western dress when others had a hanbok

The villagers called you "modern woman"

With reverence and envy

Since that day, I have practiced walking straight

One foot over another like a tightrope walker

When I am afraid of falling

I think of that "modern woman" who showed me

A road out of that little village

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A surprise visit

Peter, one of my former students, surprised me last week. As always, he finds a time to visit me whenever he is in SF. One of the best gifts for a teacher is to hear from graduates. Surprisingly, not many of them would contact their teachers after they graduate.

Peter took a class from me more than 10 years ago. While he was an undergrad student in the Broadcasting Department, he saw the future with digital media. His department at that time taught radio and TV programming, but his keen sense told him that he needs to go outside of his major to learn about new media. When he showed up in my multimedia course, my class was full. We usually can’t take undergraduate students in our department due to the limited number of computers in the lab.

When I told him that there is no room in the class, he looked so sad. I told him he should come back next week, and check if any student might drop the course. No one dropped. I told him that he has to work with his own computer and also I told him that he has to work hard to keep up with graduate students. He worked harder than anyone I knew in that course. I still remember, for his final project, he turned in a movie length multimedia project.

I was impressed with this young undergrad. To make a long story short, after Peter finished his BECA degree, he came to our department for his master’s degree in Instructional Technology. In 2002, he went on to get his from University of Idaho. While he was working on his doctorate degree, we stayed in contact for a while. I didn’t hear from him for a few years.

A few years ago, I got a phone call from him and said that he became a professor in Taiwan. He wanted to invite me to his university. That was in 2008. I visited Taiwan for the first time, I enjoyed the visit immensely. He arranged me to speak at several universities, and he made a plan for me to see the beautiful island, Taiwan. I enjoyed soaking in the famous hot spring, hiked on the most beautiful mountain that I ever saw, met so many wonderful students, and his colleagues who became my Facebook friends now.

Peter called me last Friday (April 2, 2010), and told me he is in US for two days. I invited him to my home and we had a lunch together. Our conversation covered from work, research, family, electron gadgets, religions, travel, and food. What a blessing to have a friendship like this. We are planning to do a research project together, so I can visit Taiwan again. I hope that day will come soon. Mean while I need to pack my bag for a visit to Korea in May.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nothing is forever

We had this orchid since January 1st. When I got it, there was one red flower on the skinny long stick like stem. The flower was red, so I thought it is red orchid. Then half red and half white bud popped a few weeks later, then several more half-breed, then finally white ones bloomed. Normally I don't care too much for engineered flowers, but this is an exception. This orchid graced our living room for the entire winter. I thought it is too beautiful to see it only by my husband and I, so we took it to our church a few weeks ago. Now everyone is enjoying it. One petal fell off from the stem last night, I am sure the rest will fall soon. Too bad that they are not going to last forever. Nothing does.

Living Life with an Eternal Perspective

I have been blessed by recent sermons about the resurrection of Jesus and about what will happen to Christians after death. Pastor Chris began the sermon last Sunday by showing photos of ten church members projected on the big screen. The congregation was asked to guess their identity. Some photos were taken 50 and 60 years ago.

It was an interesting exercise. People I only know as elderly were vibrant and beautiful in the photos. Some people were hard to guess due to the time gap between past and the present, but eventually we were able to recognize each one of them. The point of the sermon was that someday we will have a new resurrected body; a body that may look 30 years old and a body we will still recognize.

Lately, more than ever, I have been aware of my body changing. I can’t do what I used to do. No matter how hard I try, my physical body continues to get wrinkled and broken. I am glad to know that God will replace this broken mortal body with one that is new and immortal. This brings me to an important point. What I do in this life each moment affects my life to come. I learned from the sermon that I must live my life with an eternal perspective, knowing what is important.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

EBBA Women's Retreat At Mt. Hermon - March 2010

Last year, I jokingly challenged Diane, if Diane do it, I will do it. I thought she wouldn't do it. But she was serious. When I got to the retreat at Mt. Hermon, she would not let me off. I try to give her all kinds of excuses including my recent foot surgery excuse. She would not back off. I arrived at the breakfast table on Saturday morning, hoping Diane would not be there, well, she found me. Before I even sit down, she hold my hand and led me to the registration table. I had to sign up. I am glad that I have a friend who challenges me and keeps me accountable. It was a great adventure. Check it out how much fun Diane, Latoya, Angie, Lisa, and I were having.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stonewall Jackson at DC

My East coast tour is ending soon. I had great time in New York with my younger son last week, and this week I am visiting my older son in DC, my sister in Virginia, my cousin in Maryland, and also visited Stonewall Jackson memorial site. Tomorrow I will be leaving DC at 7 am. It is good to visit loved ones, and also it is good to go home and see loved ones there. I am so blessed to have time to travel this Spring.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Waiting at SFO

I am writing this blog at USO lounge at SFO. Chris retired from Army a few months ago, now we can use USO facilities at airports. The set up is quite good; internet is free, coffee and snacks are free too. I wanted to catch up with news but there are young men with uniform are watching TV, so I decide to seat at a computer station. I am glad to see that the US government is taking care of people who serve the country. My husband served this country for 20 years and one day. While he was in the army, our family also had to move around every 3 or 4 years. I was often left with my children months at a time while Chris was doing oversea assignments. I didn't enjoy the militery spouse life at the time, but now I am enjoying the benefits of being a millitery spouse. I can use internet for free at SFO.

Time to go to the Delta terminal. We are going to see that cute grandson of ours soon. Our plane leaves at 10:30 PM and we will arrive at JFK at 6 AM. I can 't wait to squeeze Lorenzo.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Now I know why I am not a poet

I was blessed to attend two workshops on creative writing this week. One was the local Christian writers workshop last Saturday in Castro Valley and another one was a workshop given by a Korean professor/poet who teaches creative writing courses in Korea. He is on his sabbatical.

Last Saturday, I came home after all day workshop, giddy, inspired, and alive. I loved every minute of the workshop experience;listening accomplished authors' writing experiences, publishing tips from fiction and non-fiction writers, and finding ideas from everyday life. Somewhere, a long time ago, I acquired that I must commit words on the paper perfect at the first try, otherwise you are not a good writer. If you are a talented writer, you spin the words effortlessly. No matter how much you love to write, if you are not talented, you can't be a writer. I knew I couldn't spin my words effortlessly, so I became a teacher. These authors at the workshop told us a good piece of writing comes after many versions of editing. Words don't come effortlessly to them either. I was inspired to hear their struggles, and also I could related to their joy of writing.

Last night, I went to another writing group meeting, this was for Korean writers. Sixteen of us met in a Korean restaurant. For 3 hours, we listen to the teacher talking about famous Korean poets, and why the poet wrote this word and that word, and jumping from one topic to another. The teacher talked, students listened (in my case I pretended to listen). My enthusiasm for writing was ebbing away by the minute. After the three-hour lecture, I walked out deflated, and I just wanted to go home and go to bed. I finally realized why I lost my dream of being a writer. My dream was killed by teachers who talked too much.

I thought about these two different workshop experiences, and I remind myself two things, so I don't kill my students' dream. Don't talk for 3 hours. Don't treat my student as though they don't have brain to think.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Take Your Pick

I love Sunday school. I am able to learn God’s word in an intimate setting. Last Sunday, my Sunday school teacher started the class by asking us, “What do you do when you have a difficult decision to make?” We suggested, “Pray?” Then the teacher said, “You pick” and he wrote on the board.

I-dentify God’s will
C-ommit to do God’s will
K-eep the commitment to God’s will.

Each of us makes decisions everyday, some big, some small and every decision requires our PICK. God’s will for us is to know Him and to grow in faith. And we get to know Him by studying His word. Our church offers three different Sunday morning Bible classes, a Wednesday morning Bible study, and a Wednesday evening Bible study/prayer meeting. Take your PICK. Pray which class you want to join, then keep your commitment to attend and to grow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Experience and Obedience

At six o’clock on a Saturday morning, Chris told me that three people were registered to attend a Celebrate Recovery workshop in San Jose even though the church paid for four people. I recognized the name of the program but knew little about it and how it worked. My friend who is attending a local Celebrate Recovery program told me that it is like a Christ-centered “Alcoholics Anonymous” meeting. As Chris was preparing to leave the house, he mentioned the fourth open seat. I don’t know what came over me. I thought about the wasted money and I was also curious about the program. A minute after Chris left, I got out of the bed and drove to the church parking lot where they met for a carpool. I turned out to be the fourth person.

The founder of Celebrate Recovery introduced himself by saying, “My name is John. I am a believer in recovery from alcoholism” and his wife said, “I am Cheryl. I am a believer who is in recovery from co-dependence”. The couple shared their powerful stories. When John had acknowledged his alcohol addictions and gave it to God, then his recovery began. After he recovered from his addiction, he started Celebrate Recovery program 19 years ago as a member of his church. There were two things that stood out from the couple’s testimonies: first their experience and second their obedience. Because they had firsthand experience with alcoholism and its destructive ways, they established a ministry for people suffering in similar situations. Because of their obedience, God was able to use their ministry to change lives.

As I listened to different recovery testimonies, it so obvious that God uses our experience to serve Him. We have seen a need for a recovery program for our church. I see the pain that family members have to go through. I feel a fish out of water. We as a church pray for them. But that is not enough. God must call the right person into service. He or she would require both the first-hand recovery experience and obedience to the call.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life is a vapor

Indeed, life is a vapor. In the past few days, one friend died suddenly with heart failure, and another friend got a notice that she has a cancer and she may not live more than a month. They both are pretty young (in their 60’s) and they were planning to do many things after their retirement. What a good reminder for me to live my life TODAY with the purpose. Each day is a gift and I need to use it to be counted.