The Korean ‘Three Musketeers’

Alyssa Conner

What are the odds of childhood friends ending up at the same college?

Junior public relations major Marissa Mendel and junior magazine journalism major Kim Brown are both close friends of mine. All three of us were adopted from Korea, have visited our birth country and have known each other for ten years. And somehow, all of us ended up in journalism at Kent State.

Growing up, our parents felt it was important that we kept the Korean culture with us. They wanted us to experience a combination of American culture and Korean culture.

Kim, Marissa and I attended a Korean-American school for about two years, where students had the chance to learn Korean culture, language and history. Within the school, there was a program developed specifically for Korean adoptees to learn the basics of the Korean language, like how to say “Hello” and “Goodbye,” etc.

We went to this school every Sunday for a few hours. We were also involved in a Korean dance class. We learned the different traditional dances and were actually given the opportunity to perform twice at the Asian Festival held annually in Columbus.

Not speaking the language definitely put a barrier between us, other students and the instructors. For instance, the dance teacher only spoke Korean, so we learned every dance routine in Korean. Even though we didn’t understand her, she would show us step-by-step what to do. At times it was embarrassing when the teacher would direct us to a certain spot, and we would just stand there.

“I remember it being really difficult to learn the routine,” Marissa said the other day. “Now that I think of it, it was probably because I couldn’t understand the instructions. I just figured it was because I have absolutely zero dancing skills.”

Regardless of the situation, we are thankful for our parents to exposing us to the Korean-American school.

On a brighter note, we also went to a Korean Culture Camp for 10 years. The camp is for Korean adoptees and is held every summer. It was an overnight camp and is four nights long. The campers ranged from six to 18 years old.

During those four days, we played games, learned about Korean culture, food, art and language, and had discussions every night about topics relating to adoption. It felt nice to relate to other kids who were going through similar problems.

Korean Culture Camp holds a special spot in each of our hearts because we created lifelong memories and made friendships with other children who share a common ground with us.

All of these memories we shared have created a special bond among Marissa, Kim and me. Even though we lost contact with each other throughout high school, it is Kent State that has reunited us. We have been able to help each other through difficult times that other friends might not understand or be able to relate to. We can reminisce about our trip to Korea and how we met our foster mothers, but most importantly we have each other. We are the three musketeers.

Alyssa Conner is a junior public relations major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].