Adventures in Bi-Lingualism, Multi-Culturalism
... and other isms.
Are we there yet?
I had to learn Korean… fast. During the summer of 2010, my mom called from Korea to announce she had cancer. My sisters and I wanted her to come back home so we could take care of her. My fiercely independent mother said no.
With the sudden news, I saw into my future - flying to Korea, conferring with doctors about my mom’s condition and possibly flying her back home.
How could I do that when I didn't know Korean? When we moved to the U.S., I was eight-years-old and Korean seemed unnecessary and uncool, so I abandoned it like rotten leftovers.
As an adult, I found myself in Korean school with eight-year old classmates. Their young brains sucked up the language as though drinking from a fat straw. My brain seemed to drink it up at the speed of a clogged plastic coffee stirrer. Some days I wanted to give up.
But then, I received homework assignments to read Korean traditional folktales. Like my classmates, I enjoyed language-learning much more so through stories than through textbooks. Learning a foreign language, one story at a time, seemed approachable.
I translated the tales into English to show them to my seven-year-old daughter, Rachel, an avid reader. She knew Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Three Little Pigs but consumed the Korean-turned-English stories with a stronger appetite than Amercian stories and asked for more and more. I secretly liked the subtle moral message that came with each one and the insight into a rich culture we never knew existed.
As part of a diversity curriculum, I read my translations to K-3rd graders at Rachel’s school with equally good reviews. Their eyes shined with curiosity as they asked about an unfamiliar language and culture. Their enthusiasm energized me to adapt the tales, making them more accessible to a younger, Western audience. I began to imagine bi-lingual books for young children based on these adaptations: perhaps an interactive experience via a tablet, with narration and dialog to engage and make kids laugh.
This is how Eeyagi Tales was born. Through the misfortune of an ill mother, I discovered diversity, a rich culture, language and stories to share. Eeyagi means story in Korean. We’re about:
Connecting Language, Connecting Culture... One Story at a Time
Graduating from Korean School