It takes you a while to grow to love a place, to call it home. Up until this point in my life,
I have had to leave my world, my home behind, just as I started to really love it, and every time I
left my own little bubble, it was amazing to see how I adapted and grew depending on the world
that surrounded me.
I’ve always been a little jealous of those kids that grow up with friends from
kindergarten and graduate from high school together. They are surrounded by people who know
them inside out, people who are more family than just friends, people that they will most likely
spend the rest of their lives with. In contrast, I had to leave Seoul, my home “town” (which is so
very much a town) in kindergarten when me and my best friend already had plans for our next
six years of elementary school (In Korea elementary is 6 years, middle 3, and high 3). I moved to SuWon, which was a suburban area in which I gradually became accustomed to and grew to
love. Just before I became a 3rd grader, the not so underclassmen which I was excited to
become, my mother told me that I was moving to China. That was when things really started to
change: this time it was not just a new school, but a new language, a myriad of different
cultures, a new neighborhood. It felt as though I was stripped of my own little bubble and
shoved into someone else’s.
Little did I know then that I would begin to thrive there. I attended an international
school in my time in China. This interaction with different cultures really expanded my bubble
and the way I think: as Asian countries deem age as a virtue, I was brought up to think that the
elders were the wise ones, and if you are younger, you should listen to them without questioning them. However, after I became a part of this so-called third culture, I always asked my mom, “Why do I have to listen to someone older just because they are old” and her only reply was that the older you are the wiser you are. At this point in my life, I do see why people believe so, and yet I believe that people should be able to question anyone. If someone is never questioned, their mistakes will never be corrected, and our society will not be a product of collaboration, which I believe leads to the best results, but rather, a creation of an individual.
As my thoughts began to grow in such ways, I grew to love the freedom bestowed in the
ambiance of an international school. By 6th grade, I grew to love how different all my friends
were, yet all the same in their affection for me and each other; and just as I knew I wanted to
stay there forever, we had to go back to Korea. I was terrified: I had to not only get used to the
cultural differences of an orthodox Korean public school, but also the academic pressure that is
very very high in Korean middle schools.
However, after coming back to the familiar, yet unfamiliar ambiance of a third culture society reminded me how much more I could grow, how much larger my world could be, and this time, I learned something more: The privileged should give back. By privilege I do not just mean monetary privileges, but knowledge, racial privilege, and more. Being in an international school taught me that if we were bestowed with such gifts, we should always give back, and that has hugely widened my little bubble and helped me realize that the power to do so lies in my own hands.
I do not think you have to be in a global setting to widen your bubble. Everyone has their own little bubble and every time you decide to connect with someone and understand them, your bubble grows. Especially, if you connect with people that were far away from your own. So go out there, experiment, and expand.