Monday, May 25, 2009

Cross Cultural Adventures in Michigan

We spent Memorial weekend with four 20-something International students from Korea as well as a Korean doctorate scholar and his family. There were several levels of English comprehension on their part and only one level of Korean competence on ours (zero). A couple from our church offered the use of their cabin by Lake Michigan, and we brought our golden retriever, Ginger, who doesn't understand Korean either.

The young students haven't been here long, and so everything is new to them. SanGuon and his family have been in Michigan for four years and have never had a chance to do something like this before. We had the pleasure of learning new things about Korea, a few Korean phrases and customs, as well as learning to do everything together. We also delighted in eating traditional Korean dishes--there was community cooking everyday.

We also saw things through a different perspective as we introduced some American customs, games, and helped with English along the way. When I mentioned that many places had Native American names in Michigan, their first response was to ask where were these people. The second question that always follows is to usually ask what the name of Saugatauk or Michigan means. We couldn't answer those questions, to our embarrassment. We take too much for granted.

What surprised us was their sensitivity to the fact that we were the minority. Technically, we were the hosts but they often went out of their way to make us feel at home around them. One mentioned to me while we were out to visit a resort town, that she noticed that nearly everyone was white wherever we went with them over the weekend. I took that for granted, too. In a university setting, there is more diversity. But it seems that the further west you went, or north, for that matter, the more homogeneously white it became. I never saw it like that before.

In most ways, the weekend was what we expected it to be--fun, relaxing and an opportunity to get to know each other better. SanGuon and his energetic wife, HyeSun, are wondering if they are meant to have a collegiate ministry back home, and this was a good opportunity to see if it would be a good fit for them as a couple (I think they were amazing). HyeSun will a board member of the International student fellowship's planning committee this year. SanGuon meets with Korean male students every week for a bible study. So, Dennis and I are excited that SanGuon and HyeSun are considering how to serve God in a deeper way for His Great Commission.

And for us, we benefitted in learning more about cross-cultural relationships and communication, and we are also considering how to serve God in a deeper way in this capacity. And it's just plain fun for us to hear a Korean equivalent to "Wow" every once in awhile to something we see and experience every day.

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