Whenever friends and family were excitedly awaiting the start of the Olympics, I often found myself nervously muddled in front of the TV. With a Canadian passport sitting on my desk, a South Korean flag hanging in my room, and a home residing in New Jersey, I never fully understood what it meant to passionately support a specific country in such sporting events, or in any manner for that matter.
I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada until I moved to the U.S. when I was 12 years old. I grew up eating Korean food every day and mainly spoke Korean at home. These experiences, while exciting and unique in hindsight, led to frustration, confusion, and a myriad of questions. Is it odd for me to occasionally speak in a mixture of Korean and English (“Konglish,” I later learned)? Why do my parents use the dishwasher for storage rather than for its intended purpose (of washing dishes, as expected) like the parents of my American friends do? What exactly is my identity?
Throughout high school, I struggled with this constant, internal puzzle that I never seemed to have the right pieces to complete. It wasn’t until I came to Tufts and joined a culture club, the Korean Students Association (KSA), that I began to discuss the topic of identity with others. For me, KSA is not only a means to celebrate culture, but a community with which to better understand my identity. I’m able to meet friends from a variety of backgrounds, some from Korea, some Korean but raised in other countries, and some who just respect and appreciate Korean culture. Through open discussion and late-night heart-to-heart talks with these friends, I finally feel as though I have found a space where I can feel validation, acceptance, and support as someone struggling with identity.
Now a senior and president of KSA, I look back at how much I’ve been able to comfortably explore what it means to be Asian-American and how this unique experience has shaped who I am today. I could not be more in love with the friends I made in this community. While I can only speak for KSA, I know that I, myself, and many others here at Tufts, strive to create accessible communities for people of color and work to dismantle any perpetuation of exclusivity. There is always room for improvement — that’s the case for any club — but I can’t deny that the family of wonderful students in KSA has been one of my favorite parts of being here at Tufts.
To any future Jumbos reading this, I full-heartedly know that you will be able to find a wonderful community on this campus, whether it be for culture, sports, art, academics, activism, etc. just like I did.