I have always wanted to go to the Olympics and now that that day is soon upon me I am so anxious I can hardly contain myself. I thought about writing a blog about my Olympic experiences for a while and decided not to at first because I have never really been a good writer; not unless if it comes to something that I am really passionate about and while I am really excited about going to the olympics, the thought of writing about it was less than appealing.
What made me decide to write about it you ask?
After watching the Korean women's hockey game against Sweden, I found myself reminiscing about the days when I used to play peewee hockey as a kid. and that got me thinking about when the olympics were in South Korea back in 1988. I have a lot of troubling and fond memories from back then which is part of the reason why I have decided to write this blog. The other reason is because as I have gotten back into photograph, I thought that sharing the pics I will end up taking in this format would be a more personal way to share them, than to just post them on facebook like the plethora of other people in the world who have already done so.
So without further adieu, I give to you my first post!
These olympics have a very sentimental value to me because I missed the last one that was here in 1988. (I currently live in South Korea and have been here since 2002) I would have been 8 years old then (9 years old Korean age.. don't ask lol) and If I hadn't been adopted by the Kelly family in 1985, who knows where I would have been or how my life would have become today?
Anyway, like I said, I was adopted to the United States by the Kellys in 1985. I grew up in a heavily white community whereby I was just about the only asian kid my age in town and so I grew up always knowing that I was very different from the rest of my family, never mind the rest of the people in my community. My family did a wonderful job of making me feel like I was part of the family and that I was just as American as any of the other kids, but as you can probably imagine, I struggled with what it meant to be an Asian American. After all, I was only 8 years old at the time and for me no matter how much my family loved me, that inner struggle was mine alone to figure out.
For me 1988 was pretty much my first window into the world of Korea.
That year, I would begin to learn about two of the most important lessons in life. The importance of acceptance and how we choose to Identify ourselves.
I remember it vividly because I was sitting in front of the TV watching the olympics with my older brother and on that particular day, I was rooting for the Koreans. My older brother then turned to me and said "hey, you should be rooting for the Americans!" To be honest I was very confused because it was at that moment that I realized for the first time what I would end up struggling with the rest of my life until now. Am I American or am I Korean?
My mom, who had heard what my brother had said to me, immediately cut in saying "hey! thats okay. He can root for whatever team he wants to". She has always been and to this day still is my own personal hero (Love you mom ^_^) She always made me feel that I was accepted and above all else, I was her son and that I should be proud of both of my cultural backgrounds. Despite her and the rest of my family's efforts, I still struggled with what being an Asian American meant to me.
When I was in high school (around the age of 17 I think) I made the decision to find my biological family here in South Korea. After a while, I got a call back from the adoption agency saying they had found my biological father. If that was n't emotionally stressful enough in and of itself, the next day I found out a close personal friend of mine who had also been adopted from South Korea around the same time that I had been, had passed away. These two things finally made me decide to come to South Korea and take the first steps in finding out just who I wasand where I came from.
I came back to South Korea in 2001 and again in 2002 and have been here ever since. (I know that there is a lot missing between 2002 and now, but that is a story for another time) I was supposed to go back to the US in the summer of 2002 but due to extenuating circumstances, ended up staying here in Korea because I could earn more money teaching English here, than I could doing whatever job I would have ended up getting back in the States at the time. Over those years, I met my biological family (a huge emotional roller coaster and a yet again a story for another time) learned Korean and eventually met a Korean woman who I fell madly in love with and married. We have been married for 5 years now and still going strong! (^_^)
Whats so special about these olympics?
4 years ago, my friend from college, Josh Spaulding, a well known sports writer/journalist in New Hampshire made the epic journey to the Sochi olympics. I read his blogs daily and remember how envious I was of him at the time. Despite a few hiccups he had mentioned about, it was apparent that he was having a wonderful time at the olympics which only served to remind me that I had always wanted to go to the Olympics as a kid. Later when I found out that the 2018 Winter Olympics were going to be held in South Korea I knew that this was an opportunity that I just couldn't miss!
I have already made plans to meet him at the games and can't tell you how much I am looking forward to meeting him after nearly 19 years. With him I am not just meeting a friend, I am meeting a brother! Thats right, not only were we in marching band and pep band together at UNH, (the University of New Hampshire) we are both members of the same college fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi which is a band fraternity dedicated to helping the music department at their respective schools.
I can't wait to finally get up there to the games to meet Josh and finally experience the Olympics for myself!. And to make things even better, my wife is also coming and she will finally get to meet one of my friends from the States who knew me back when I still had hair on my head ^_^!!
Considering the role that the first Olympics here In South Korea played in my early life. I think its awesome that I now have the chance to conclude this chapter of my life by finally going to the olympics with the games once again being back here In South Korea!
Stay tuned for more!