A week of the International Korean Adoptee Association (IKAA) third Gathering in Seoul was intense and fulfilling. I can write so much about it but I don’t know if I have the energy now. It was a crazy and busy week. I was always doing something and I rarely slept. I met adoptees from around the world and made lifelong friendships. I had a lot of interesting and fulfilling conversations and experienced some mixed emotions. I couldn’t have been happier with the turnout. I’ll update more about it later.
After the gathering, I stayed at KoRoot, a hostel in Seoul made for adoptees. It is a very cute house with a fancy spiral staircase in the center. We get free breakfast and free home cooked Korean food for lunch. The director and his wife are so selfless and friendly; it’s quite inspiring. There are good people in this world. I knew it all along. All of us were exhausted from the sleepless nights at the gathering so we chose to hang out in the living room in our pajamas and share stories, eat candy, and drink makgeolli.
It was hard saying goodbye to the Americans whom I may see in the next coming months but even harder to the Europeans whom I may never see again. We’ll keep in touch though.
I had several flights home: Seoul to Honolulu to Las Vegas to Houston to Jacksonville. An adoptee happened to be on the same flight as me so we traveled together early in the morning to Incheon and caught the flight to Hawaii. We met a Thai girl and I told her how much I loved her country. After 8 hours, we arrived at the airport and I waited outside with my bags from 1am to 5am until my next flight at 8. I met two students – one who just finished a year in Japan and another who has been living in Korea for the past 6 years. We shared some ideas and thoughts. Speaking with the Korean was a different experience. I met Korean Koreans and there was a language barrier so our ideas were difficult to get across to each other. I met Korean adoptees who are in the same boat as I am. I met Korean Americans who are totally Americanized. But this lad was raised by totally Korean parents in the USA who sent him back to Korea to “become more Korean”. He experienced both worlds. His mind thinks like a Korean now and he was able to articulate his thoughts about the culture to me in his rusty English.
Surprisingly I don’t feel too much of the jet lag. I felt very upset when first being surrounded by all white people, 2/3 of them overweight, most of them loud and complaining. However I quickly adjusted to America by seeing my parents, sleeping in a bed, choosing clothes out of a closet rather than a backpack, eating Broadway pizza with my research team friends, and taking a real shower.