I came into the Korean Language and Culture Program with what I thought was a completely realized Korean American adoptive identity. If I had to choose one takeaway from my trip, it would be that there is always more I can do to discover myself and to get even more in touch with that identity.

One of the highlights for me was meeting 7 other Korean adoptees from the U.S and Australia because we all had that one part of us in common, no matter what our differences were. It was the little moments that make my heart so happy to reminisce about the trip. Sharing laughs about endless jokes; staying up late to watch a Korean drama in the kitchen; walking around and getting to know a new city, new people, new culture; going hoarse from karaoke nights. These people really made the trip what it was, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have met them and also thankful to ESWS for allowing me to meet them.

Olivia and friends on the beach in Korea

Another highlight was getting various volunteer opportunities such as taking care of babies at ESWS, playing with older babies at Jacob’s home, and packing lunches for the elderly. It gave me a feeling of community and dedication to a larger cause. I also cherish the 18 days spent at Hallym University because I have always been passionate about learning languages, especially Korean, and to experience a Korean University setting and be a student in Korea was unique.

To anyone thinking about applying for this program: if you are passionate about traveling the world, experiencing new cultures, being one with your identity, forming everlasting friendships, and learning the Korean language, then this is the perfect fit.

I am so thankful to ESWS for sponsoring my trip to my birth country and opening my eyes to much more of Korean culture. Going forward, I will continue to grow and realize my identity, and I will always look back on this trip with true happiness.

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