Something Missing This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Mostparents tell their children that a stork brought them and dropped them on theirdoorstep; mine told me I was brought by a Boeing 747.

I was adopted fromSouth Korea when I was four months old, and grew up in a white family andcommunity. At a young age, I became curious about my heritage and culture, so myparents sent me to Korean Culture Camp. As I've grown, I've wanted more, so lastyear I went to Sae Jong Camp. During that hot month of August at camp, I foundsomething I couldn't have at home.

Two hours into the drive to camp, thehighway turned into a winding dirt road. Trees towered over us and soon we cameto a large sign with "Camp Sae Jong" clearly printed in the KoreanHangul. Of course, I knew this only because of the English translation underneathit. My relaxation turned to anxiety.

After unloading my bags, we arrivedin front of the dining hall. Jason, part of the staff, and Heather, one of mycounselors, introduced themselves. They were so nice, and promised me I wouldhave a wonderful time. Their assurances calmed my nerves, and I was ready tobegin the week.

I said good-bye to my family and Heather led me into thedining hall. I was shocked - I had never seen so many Koreans before! Finally, aplace where everyone was like me. I took a seat at my table where the girls frommy cabin sat and joined in with their talk. Soon we were all acquainted, and Iwas pleased by their friendliness and caring personalities.

That week, oneof the best of my life, flew by quickly. This camp had everything! Every day wehad four classes: language, music, culture, and identity in the morning, and oneof many electives in the afternoon.

The activities were not what made campso special, though. Not beach night, not the dance, not the camp-out or the highropes course. Camp was so special because it provided me with something my lifeat home couldn't. At SJC, everyone could relate to each other. We were open aboutthe issues of adoption and the curiosity of what our lives would have been likeif we weren't adopted. Most of us had grown up with a white family and had allwhite friends who couldn't understand being adopted from another country.

I also learned about my birthplace, South Korea, "Land of the MorningCalm," which was enriching. I learned about everything from traditionalKorean weddings to Korea's history. Even repeating the Korean alphabet andnumbers was interesting and helped me discover where I came from. Learning aboutmy culture helped me learn about who I am as a Korean American. I consider myselflucky because I have two wonderful cultures.

Furthermore, I madefriendships that I hope will last forever. My fearful thought, Will I make anyfriends? that had stirred before camp, vanished. Everyone was easy to talk to andenjoyable to be with. Through the eleven months and three weeks we don't see eachother, we stay in touch with expensive phone calls and instantmessages.

The last day of camp approached fast, and before we knew it, itwas time to say farewell. We dragged our sleeping bags off the bunks and packedour swimsuits. People shared final laughs and talked to each other. Jason calledeveryone over for a final good-bye. We gathered in a circle, and I noticed that afew counselors had guitars slung over their shoulders. Jason announced that weshould sing "Lean On Me" before we left. With hands clasped and theguitars playing, we began, "Lean on me, when you're not strong, I'll be yourfriend, I'll help you carry on, for, it won't be long, till I'm gonna need,somebody to lean on ..."

I know I'll always be able to lean on thepeople at Sae Jong Camp.






La Culture Francaise by Ellen F., Destrehan, LA



   


By Erica R., Phoenix, AZ


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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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