To the Fulbright community—
Since the beginning of the grant year, July 2018 has felt like the end of the world to me. Not in the apocalyptic sense, but in the sense of old seafarers’ charts, where the edges of the known universe disappear into mist. There, cartographers would draw sea monsters, dragons, and fantastical creatures, a metaphor for the dangers of unexplored territory.
In July, we will all be crossing that boundary from the known into the unknown. Whether we’re leaving Korea or staying, this summer marks a time of transition. Fulbright Korea is in for a change as well; Director Jai Ok Shim is retiring at the end of 2018, an occasion we honor in our feature about her retirement.
How fitting is it, then, that this volume is so rich with contributions from those on the Other Side—those who made it beyond the end of the world, and now send us missives back from the frontier. In addition to alumni submissions for Director Shim’s feature, we have two pieces by former grantees. In “The Way Home” by Bijou Nguyen, a medical student’s elderly Korean patient brings back vivid memories of her grant year. In “How to Eat Rainbow Play-Doh,” Charles Nelson IV reflects on his marriage to a fellow ETA, and how their time in Korea still has a powerful effect on them today.
In a series of poems, “Ancient Ground,” current grantee Spencer Lee Lenfield explores five vivid images that linger in the mind like pressed flowers. “Marked Deck,” by Rebecca Brower and Gwangeun Cho, tells the story of a student with a knack for magic tricks, providing a glimpse into a unique school for North Korean defectors. We’re also pleased to include student work, selected by Fulbright Open Window Student Editors, Gaeun Han, Sooyeon Ko, and Hyeongdo Lee.
This issue of Infusion wouldn’t exist without the support of current grantees, alumni, and KAEC. In order to ameliorate budget cuts, we ran two fundraisers, raising over 1,200 USD, most of which came from the alumni community. I’ve so enjoyed getting to interact with alumni through the Kickstarter and our feature on Director Shim. From our correspondence and reading their stories and notes, I know that when we leave Korea next month (or next year, or the next), we will be joining the ranks of an enthusiastic, caring, and inspiring community. Though I’m sailing into new seas, and there may indeed be monsters, I feel much braver knowing that I’m following in the wake of all those who came before me.