In this third winter edition of Infusion, we see how Fulbright Korea grantees are both enamored with and challenged by their daily lives in Korea. It is during the winter season—which marks the halfway point of our grant years—that we often start to reexamine the way we approach
the limitations of living in a foreign country. Many of us come as strangers to the language, culture and people. It takes a lot of practice to fit more comfortably into our roles as cultural ambassadors before we can locate ourselves in the landscape of Korea.
I first came to know Korea through a book— Dictee, by Korean-American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. I often think of the student in Dictee who struggles to learn a new language. She reflects on the limits of language to express even her most basic emotions through the few words she has mastered. Over the past year and a half, my elementary school students have used raw determination to bring me closer to their worlds, to teach me things about themselves and their country with new vocabulary words each time we talk.
It is with the same determination that our contributors select the right words and photographs to bring readers as close as possible to the Fulbright Korea experience which often feels too elusive to describe. As Emily Shoemaker notes as she gives speaking tests to her students, sometimes the perfect words come to us, and sometimes they don’t. Total command of a language is not always necessary to know the kindness of others, as Claire Cambron sees when support comes to her in various forms after a life-changing discovery. We lean on the people we meet here, and the communities we come from, in order to define personal histories created by life’s lessons—those new and those revisited.
Whether we have transformed our language or cultural limitations into small accomplishments or we are still exploring our potential as cultural ambassadors, we are using this time in our grant years to integrate our learning experiences into tangible realities. This issue marks only the start of the influence we will have on our communities and the impact Korea will have on us in the months to come.
Please enjoy reading Infusion, Volume 9, Issue 1.
Dawn Angelicca Barcelona