l’emari from USA: Culture sharing

As a college student, sometimes I see that it is a lot easier to check messages on Facebook than my USC inbox. I know that this is not good, but somehow I find a little humour in it. One day I was determined to check all of my messages in my inbox. So I fixed myself a cup of coffee with a side of toast and went for it. Being that the weather here can temp a person to not want to stay indoors on a beautiful sunny day, somehow I felt that I needed to do this. So while reading all of my messages, I stumbled on an email that that showed announcements that told about different events that were going on. Being that I decided this would be my last email that I would read for the day, I proceeded to read it. I saw one that told about participating at a story tent. This would consist of a person talking about their culture and background.

 After experiencing life and other cultures here in Australia, I had discovered a new found love and respect for my own. So I took a simple step and called the contact person that was listed. Not sure if I had waited too late to reply, I was a little nervous but like my mother always told me “All they can say is yay or nay”. After a few rings, I almost hung up the phone then I heard a “Hello”. After a pleasant conversation, I was reassured that I was not too late, even though the event was within a week.

After getting off the phone, I went to email my father and remembered that I had a ton of Uni work to do. Even though it was just two essays, they were extremely difficult for me. Being that the writing style is so different than what I am familiar with in the U.S, I had to spend a lot more time on something that usually took a few days with strong dedication. Being that the majority of students from the U.S were having the same problem, It made me want to complain at times because I felt that it wasn’t fair but I tried to stay positive about it.

Sunday Morning I woke up bright and early to catch the bus, which I hate doing. Fortunately the bus drivers were really nice about helping to make sure that I got to my correct destination. If it wasn’t for them, I think I would still be lost out there somewhere: Laughter. The Bus stations can be a bit confusing at times, especially for someone that drives more than he walks. After getting there I noticed that there were so many people. This was because the Music Festival was going on. Also, this was the first time I had come to the beach in the day time. I must admit that it was beautiful. The way the people rode the waves and how the sun shined off of them along with music from all different backgrounds including all types of food, I would have been happy to just sit on a bench to watch it all.

I walked along until I met the coordinator of “story time” at the tent and after talking for a bit she walked me down to the water and told me a story. She said when she first arrived to Australia that the people of the Land welcomed her by taking her down to the ocean and splashing the water on her face so that she could be greeted properly in a traditional way. She then asked me to do this. Being honoured to take part in this experience, I did not take it likely or for granted. I knelled down on one knee and very slowly splashed the water on my face. Laughing aloud out of happiness I tasted the salt. It was extraordinary for me because I now tasted the natural salt water from the ocean for the first time. After this she walked me back up to the tent and told me to enjoy my day and that I would see her at 3:00 for the story time. 

After receiving my food voucher I walked by myself to get a bite to eat. After getting this I ran into a friend named Gee JiSung Kim from South Korea. Neither of us knew that the other would be there so this was a great surprised. After hanging out I learned that he had been in the Military in South Korea but not by choice. He explained to me how all males in South Korea had to join the military for 2 years. It took me about 20 minutes for me to register this concept in my mind. This is because In the U.S we are given a choice to join the military and I thought about how different life would be if we had no choice. After a good full day of finding out about each other cultures we left the beach and I had pictures, a unique sea shell, and more knowledge about another country besides my own.

That following Friday, I was ready to work on some Uni assignments.  Not looking forward to the tedious task, I walked to the computer lab and when I made it to the door I realized I forgot my card. Being that it was a hot day, I did not want to walk back to my apartment to get it so I knocked on the door. Then something amazing and inspirational happened. A guy came to the door and greeted me with a smile and held the door open for me until I was completely in. When I sat down I looked over and saw him slightly leaning on the chair and the wall to get back to his seat. Then it hit me that it was his wheelchair that was in front of the door. Here was a guy that had a physical disability who had gotten up to open the door for me in a room full of non handicapped people.  I was blown away and at that moment so many lessons about life hit me like waves on the water: How some people are forced to do things or live a certain way, The amount of excuses we use when it comes to something that is hard for us, taking things for granted such as surfing, walking to the store, or even just across the room, and even being so comfortable in our own little world that we fail to realize the opportunity to help someone else. We even fail to sometime notice the people that do not have those same privileges as we do, but now I recognize that they notice us every day. They could easily use an excuse like some of us do and say they can’t because of various reasons, but they still choose to get to their goal no matter what is; to come to Uni to get an education, fix their own food, even for the parents of children with disabilities and also parents who have disabilities.  But one of the best lessons that I learned was discovered by my dad. He said “Just Think, you don’t have to be perfect to help someone”. At that moment, I discovered a new goal in life that I wanted to achieve: I wanted to learn to look at the size of my excuse and to make my Determination even bigger, greater, and stronger. With that being said, I think my Uni work is in for a Big surprise!

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