To start off the article series, we would like for you all to get to know our 2018-2020 Student Council a little better aside from their personal bios on the WLSA website as they answer the question, “Why WLSA”.
By Caitlin Chung, Vice President
There is always a divide between things: something that sets distinct objects apart. The most prominent divide in my life existed between the different cultures I was, and still am, constantly exposed to: my Korean culture and the surrounding American culture.
I have always grown up feeling comfortable speaking Korean, eating kimchi, keeping to myself, and bowing to adults whenever they walked by. The beautiful, rich culture that enforced conformity with a huge emphasis on respect, education, and success was engraved into my DNA.
My biological makeup faced a sudden discombobulation during April of 2014 when out of the blue, I was told I was going to be moving to the states. When I landed in sunny Los Angeles, California, one of the melting pots of the United States, it is an understatement to say that I was overwhelmed.
What I saw in the initial state of the cultural confrontation were two bubbles: one embodying the East Asian culture I had been born into, and the other representing the Western world I had only a limited glimpse of over the past few years. For a while, these two bubbles floated together, sometimes bumping into each other and repelling away from the force of collision. Until one day, the two bubbles collided into each other to form a merged venn-diagram like structure. This was the beginning of my understanding of cultural integration. The important aspect to remember here however, is the fact that never did one of the bubbles pop. I came to embody both the Eastern and Western cultures, never completely abandoning one cultural tie to uphold another.
This experience, in which I learned art of cultural appreciation and understanding, has proven to be life changing experience for me. I found myself being able to connect with individuals exposed to drastically different cultures, and continuously adding to my diverse and ever growing “personal culture”.
What drew me to WLSA was the opportunity for me to learn. What I have learned from my previously experiences was that from every person I have interacted with, I have gained something priceless: growth of my previously mentioned “personal culture” stemming from the knowledge of others’ cultural aspects. WLSA’s Capstone Program as well as the Jeju 2018 Conference provided me with hundreds of different bubbles that conjoined to my initial bubble to help hone and define myself as an unique individual.