September 29, 2013
A Streetcar Named Korea: I’ve Always Depended on the Kindness of Strangers
I was lost on the way to my weekly dinner with the Gwangju Eta gang. Again. I had taken the bus and gotten off at my usual downtown stop, confident I knew where I was going. This should have been the first sign I was lost. I passed the spot where I thought the restaurant was; I turned around, then walked past again, to be sure. I kept walking straight, past a man selling baby bunnies, who refused to be photographed. I passed a large art installation being built in the park.
Finally I passed by two young men around my age sitting on a bench smoking cigarettes.
“English?” I asked hopefully. They looked at each other then back at me.
“A little,” one replied. Good enough.
I gave them the name and address of the restaurant I was looking for. Neither had heard of it, but within seconds both were on their phones, determined to find me directions. Within minutes one of them was leading me through the streets, dodging motorbikes and people wielding two or three shopping bags on each arm. And before I knew it we were there. I thanked him with a smile, and soon he was lost in the throng.
It’s times like these I realize how lucky I am to be in a country as welcoming as Korea. While everyone’s experiences abroad are different, mine have been overwhelmingly positive. I can’t help but think of my position in this country, and how truly different my experience is, especially within a larger, historical context.
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Category: Past Reflection
October 15, 2013
THE KEY TO ADVENTURE AND HOW TO FLY
ALL PHOTOS BY MARK LUEBBERS
When I was growing up like just about everyone else my grandfather would tell stories when we came to visit. Some were about his home life growing up and others were about his adventures. The one that I heard the most, involved him riding the rails in the 30’s, as a hobo, after he served in the marines.
I would imagine him with the knap sack and ragged clothes that we all romanticize about when we think of hobos. Whether that aspect actually happened or not doesn’t really matter. What does is that he explored his world on his terms. He could live his life by his rules and let the wind in his sails direct his course. He also had company. This company came in the form of a friend from the marines that seemed to have traveled with him from the start to his second to last ride. He didn’t say much about him outside of what they would do but this friend at one point gave him an offer that was a turning point in his life. This friend wanted to ride on the rails all the way up to Alaska to go on what would be the ultimate adventure. Sadly my grandpa opted to see his family instead and his friend was left to explore the great north solo.
Every time he told this story it involved the justification that he really wanted to go home to see his family even though they treated him poorly. This never made sense to me. It still doesn’t. If you have an amazing opportunity you should take it instead of going into misery central. While I always hated this ending to his story I am still quite grateful because, it ultimately led to my existence.
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Category: Our Elegant Generation, Past Reflection, It\'s So BS