자기 발견의 여정 (A Journey of Self-Discovery)

Challenges. When overcome they make us stronger, however, when left unaccounted for, they grow to become larger and sometimes even unconquerable obstacles.

I learned this the hard way, and in many aspects, I am still struggling with addressing my personal obstacles. Growing up in a diverse community filled with different walks of life, I was fortunate enough to have people around me going through the same struggle of straddling two cultures, our ethnic Asian background and American nationality. In the eyes of the people who lived around me, I was Indian, but back in India with my extended family, I was seen as American. Never truly belonging to one society made me frustrated, and I assumed overcoming this cultural identity conflict was my first step in my journey of self-discovery. However, as I progressed through my academic career, it soon became clear to me that I was going about “solving” this obstacle the wrong way. Treating it as an obstacle was incorrect, because in reality, the Asian Americans had already formed its own community rooting from second-generation immigrants. I realized that we should embrace our mixed identities and use this cultural mix to help bring together global communities. This new realization set me on my current path of working to link different communities through exploring and gathering a deeper understanding of various cultures. Thus, my initial journey of self-discovery became a new journey of global discovery.

 

Throughout this internship, I was fortunate to spend extended time in a country where I was already situated with the culture and language. This gave me an immediate connection with the people and helped me in conversing with my work colleagues as well as experience life as a local. But at the same time, I was also struggling with getting to know people because I was seen as the “외국인” or foreigner who people would not reach out to first. Additionally, as the only intern at my organization, there were no other student-age employees around me and this made it even more difficult to create closer ties with people here. However, looking back at my time here, I realize that while learning more about Korea was one of the most important parts of this opportunity, I was also given the chance to take a step back and learn more about myself. Through all of this I realized that the most important thing is to never lose sight of your goals and passions. While life is bound to get you feeling down sometimes, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel and you have to keep striving to get to it. 

 

Reflecting back on my time here in Busan as an intern for the International Comedy Festival, I feel that I learned a lot about standing my ground as a foreigner and being confident in myself as I walk through the city. I used to be quite self-conscious when I first arrived in Korea, as even my appearance would draw attention from everyone around me. As I have made it through the last 6 months here, I have grown as a person and become more confident in my own skin.

 

My Five Takeaways:

  1. Sometimes it is better to take a step back and look at the bigger picture before getting hung up on all the details. 
  2. Starting conversations with strangers, especially in a foreign language, is never easy. But once you begin to talk, you will end up learning so much more about the culture of the place and the people. Through this experience, I learned how to better reach out to strangers while speaking Korean.
  3. While knowing a foreign language is a skill, it is only useful if you understand how to use it and how the culture shapes it. Learning a language through its culture can give a person insight into how a society functions and how it has developed to become what it is today.
  4. Asking for something to do is not always the solution and sometimes there just won’t be any work to do. But waiting for the right time to step in and ask to be a part of something might lead you to gaining more meaningful experiences.
  5. Even if you think you haven’t made an impact on the people around you, at the end of an experience you may realize that you in fact influenced the people around you. I received a thank you letter at the end of my internship along with a cake while my coworkers thanked me for spending time as an intern with them. I was really touched and through all the challenges I faced, I am happy to have met so many nice people that I am proud to have been able to call my coworkers. 

BICF

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