I think we can all do better to expand our perspectives, not for the sake of people agreeing with each other's ideology and views, but to consider them.

Ho Yeon Park '18
Photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

"I came to the United States during high school as an exchange student, but then decided to stay. I attended schools in Massachusetts, Maine and Minnesota. It gave me experience with just how diverse America is. Over the past several years, I've lived with an African-American host family, in an almost all-white community, at a boarding school and then at Bucknell, and I've attended both Catholic and secular schools.

"I saw all of these different types of cultures within America, which was both confusing and fascinating. When I took my first anthropology class here, I knew it was what I wanted to study. This is what I think about all of the time. Observing human interaction with close attention has become almost natural to me because I have adapted to so many new situations.  

"That first course was with Professor Steven Rea, who studies South Korean digital culture, including online gaming, and I was fascinated because that culture, to me, is like air. You don't think about it, it's just there. When I heard that a person could study this, it made me think of all of these different cultures I'd experienced over the past several years. These people were just doing what they were doing. I was there as an outsider, so it was strange to me, but not to them. I realized that politics, economics, gender issues  — what people actually talk about — are topics in anthropology, and that was just amazing to me.  

"This summer, I'm going to study the phenomenon of cultural cringe — the idea that South Koreans don't like their own culture — among adolescents there. Kids form negative cultural terms using something that is a big part of Korean life, like kimchi nam and kimchi nyeo. Kimchi is a national dish, but adding nam and nyeo refers to guy and girl and turns it into a derogatory term that indicates that Korean men and women are inferior from a global perspective. So Korean women will say that about Korean men and vice versa. 

"I'm not sure if people really feel this way or if it's just something to say, which is why I want to study it, but my friends who live in Korea always talk about this. It's a hot topic — people blame lots of things on Korea. I'll be spending 8–9 weeks at a high school observing, interacting and interviewing the students and their parents. 

"I think it's inevitable that as we become more and more globalized, anthropology will be an important field to study. We're studying different galaxies, but I feel like we don't have answers to basic human questions, like why is there still racism? Look at all of our global conflicts. If we try to understand other humans, it will be better for us. 

"It's even interesting to look at Bucknell's culture, what it's like and how it's represented both on and off campus. You can use anthropology in so many ways to diversify your perspective. I think we can all do better to expand our perspectives, not for the sake of people agreeing with each other's ideology and views, but to consider them."  

HP is from Incheon, South Korea

Posted 5/3/16

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