Luke Park, Korean-Canadian, shows us how embracing your authenticity through diversity can lead to more humanity!
Growing up, I always believed I was Korean since I was born in Seoul, South Korea where the world of Korean Pop Culture or K-POP originates from. Today, many relate Seoul, South Korea and K-POP with the famous blowout YouTube music video: Gangnam by Psy, a Korean Pop Artist.
Little did I know that years later my life in correlation to my identity would change in terms of cultural and social connections and how I see myself.
When I was four, my parents and I went to Vancouver, BC, Canada and stayed at a family friend’s house for some time. Eventually, we moved to one of the most multicultural cities in Canada, as well as the world. However, at this point in the story, we were still freshly curious and adventurous immigrants striving for a new and better life. We were striving towards success. Many Asian families, and other good families from different backgrounds, have their children concentrate on education as priority one for success, and the rest of life comes after.
Once we settled into this great and diverse city, I was enrolled into French Immersion school for the next few years. This is where I began to learn and adapt into a diverse and multicultural society. At this point, I still saw myself as a Korean. As a kid, I didn’t think much about how I saw myself in terms of culture. More on that later…
Eventually, I didn’t want to pursue French Immersion so I ended up in regular academic English classes and switched elementary schools (Catholic to Public) a few years later. Afterwards, I was able to further assemble myself with other children my age who primarily spoke English. I was a 1.5G immigrant kid. 1.5 Generations (1.5G) means you were born elsewhere and moved to another country at a young age—primarily during childhood or preteen years. 1.5G and having to learn French, English, and develop my Korean were definitely challenges I had to overcome while adapting from a homogenous to a diverse society.
After graduating from public elementary school at grade five, I went onto public middle school until grade eight. Halfway through the school year, I switched back into a Catholic school. Once I completed eighth grade, I moved onto high school. High school was an age of struggle for me, my identity, and my cultural and social connections. Being surrounded for many years by people from diverse cultures made me realize: Yes, I’m Korean born. Yes, my blood is Korean and so are my family and relatives. However, I was raised in Canada.
A matter of Nature vs. Nurture, I thought.
For years, I went through the frustration of “Am I Korean or Canadian?” even though the phrase should be, “ I am Korean-Canadian.” For awhile, socially speaking or in the still deeply embedded racial/cultural slang, I identified myself as a Twinkie (Yellow-[Asian] on the outside and White-[Westernized] on the inside. Funny how my societal identification and self-identity came to be since I had friends that were both westernized and immigrants. They were known by another embedded racial/cultural slang, FOB (Fresh Off the Boat). They were all born in different countries from where I was raised. Near the end of my multi-cultural high school journey and post-graduation, I had an epiphany. I can have the best of both worlds by embracing Korean Culture while living in a diverse society and being:
- progressively evolved through negative, positive, neutral experiences and perceptions
- a deep independent thinker and social empowerment practitioner
- deductive in my reasoning through authentic intelligence
These are all possibilities in the present and into the future for motivation and inspiration that lead to Inner Peace, Internal Happiness, and Success.
The Lesson Throughout The Journey: Embrace and appreciate oneself as a whole through Authenticity! Heck, we’re only human.