20
Feb
12

Doing Culture (Part 1); Nah, Just Living Our Lives

So many recent discussions (with friends and on boards I read) has gotten me thinking about embracing birth culture. The questions I’ve been hearing are: Why do it? Is it really important? How much is too much? When do you start? When do you let your child take the lead?

I must admit I find the discussions fascinating. Of course, if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know my feelings on birth culture. But I was struck recently by the term “doing culture” because while our family embraces as much of the Korean culture as we can, I don’t think of it as “doing culture.” I think of it as being “us.” We’re just doing the things that make us a family.

And I feel that many adoptive parents have gotten the wrong idea of what it means to embrace the child’s birth culture. That it has to be BIG things and in the company of many other adoptive families. It means attending festivals and camps, right? Eating out at Korean (or other cultural) restaurants now and then. Well, all of those things can be part of embracing a child’s birth culture. But where does that leave you if your budget is tight or your child is too busy pursuing other interests to attend camps and festivals?

For us embracing the culture is mostly closer to home and more intimate. Some part of the Korean culture touches our lives every day through language, food, entertainment, or friendships. It’s not usually all of those things every day, but sometimes it is. We typically celebrate Korean holidays as a family, just as we do American holidays, and in the same spirit and tradition that they are celebrated in Korea. And weekly J is learning the customs of Korea that will be important for him to know as he grows.

Then there’s taekwondo for J four to five times a week and Korean school on Saturday. These activities are important because they allow J to be with other Korean Americans, to be learning langauge and culture from native speakers, and for all of us to be forming new friendships and deepening existing ones.

And lastly there are the festivals and day camps (heritage camp hasn’t been possible for us financially as of yet). These are days of fun for our family and provide more chances to connect with other adoptive families.

It’s a plan for embracing culture that we feel we’ll be able to sustain over time for several reasons. First, we started living this way before our son came home. There’s never been a time in his life since joining our family that he hasn’t heard Korean music, words, and phrases or gotten to eat home-cooked Korean food. Over time these things have expanded–we know more songs, words, and phrases now and my Korean cooking skills have vastly improved. For him, this is normal; in fact, it would be odd for J now if we suddenly stopped doing these things.

Second, in the last year, we’ve developed friendships with other families (both adoptive and Korean American) who live similarly. That means our living this way doesn’t “separate” J from his friends or make him feel different. Of course, we also have friends who don’t live this way and some might think us odd but at least he knows other families very similar to his own.

Third, since so much of what we do is done at home or with close friends, our hope is other interests won’t have to interfere. Even if there comes a day when J can’t or doesn’t want to attend Korean school, we can find other ways to continue our language learning (other classes, tutor, online program, etc.). The fact is we don’t have a teen yet so everything is speculation. So far as he’s grown, J has wanted more culture not less. Only time will tell if that will continue.

So that’s why I don’t feel like we “do culture,” and instead we’re just being us.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Doing Culture (Part 1); Nah, Just Living Our Lives”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

Favorite Korean Movies-TV Shows

Be Strong, Geum-Soon
Please Teach Me English
Spy Girl
Tae Gu Ki
Chunhyang
2009 Lost Memories

Contact Me

2worlds1familyblog at gmail dot com

It’s a Small World After All

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: