Monday, 6 August 2007

my big break!

Well, I hope so.

Having my mom here to help out has been great. She's been helping me schedule appointments, snoop around Seoul for leads, and bug my relatives to tap into whatever connections they might have. After lunch this afternoon(my--and also Gwyneth Paltrow's--favorite dol sot bi bim bap), we took the subway just outside of Seoul to Bucheon for a meeting with the Executive Director of Pearl S. Buck International Korea(PSBIK), the organization working with mixed-race children in Korea.

I'd been told that PSBIK was too busy to help students do research, so I wasn't hoping for much, maybe just a chance to volunteer. But, after we went through the usual Korean pleasantries, the usual exclamations of, "oh, but you don't look mixed...," Kyung-Hee Bae, the Executive Director, ended up making a dream of a proposal.

Although PSBIK works primarily with children, they do keep in touch with the young adults who have participated in their programs, and Ms. Bae promised to try to arrange for me to meet with two guys, ages 18 and 19. Normally, she told me, when you interview someone in Korea, you pay them an honorarium, but she wanted to propose an alternative: why didn't I spend a day with these guys, get to know them, treat them to lunch, and give them a crash course in how to do basic daily activities in the U.S.(one is starting college in the states soon). And, also, since they'd both like to practice English more, why don't I offer to keep up an e-mail correspondence with both of them.

I did run into one problem that I hadn't considered, but it seems so obvious now that I should have. While thinking aloud about my options, Ms. Bae named a few mixed-race young women in the age group I'm going after, but when she offered to arrange some introductions, she left them out, only naming the two mixed-race young men.

"What about the girls?" my Mom asked her, "you know, he's[me] very gentle"
(My mom's English usage is not always right on the mark; what I think she was doing here, was not making gender generalizations, but rather trying to explain that I'm very sensitive to gender issues in the work I do)

"I'm sure he learned that from you, but, you know, they don't speak English very well," she offers as an excuse, knowing that I have my Korean mother with me as a translator.

We proposed a different option: my Mom spending some one-on-one time with the girls instead of me, so I'm hoping that will work out. Actually, really, as the bolded try should indicate, I'm hoping something comes of this period. I've already been disapointed once by a seemingly all-knowing contact.

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