Unification News for March 1997
A Mother's Impression of Sending a Child to School in Korea
by Christine Martinez
My youngest son and I had the blessing of being able to go to Korea for Christmas and True God's Day. Even though it put a strain on our financial situation, not to mention on my new employment situation, I felt I needed to be reassured that all Jerry was telling me was true about the environment in Korea. I was very reassured and actually reborn spiritually through my visit. My son has actually led a very sheltered life. He has never been allowed to spend the night at another child's home. He has only been left with my own mother perhaps three or four times overnight in his life. So I was concerned that he might have trouble adjusting to being away from his family. Surprisingly (though when I came to know the environment it was no longer a surprise), he adjusted very well to the separation; he did struggle with the change in diet, culture and study habits, as perhaps each western student has.
I have struggled for days about writing this article, asking myself what would other parents want to know; what are they concerned about? Ben moaned a lot about food. So I wanted to set the record straight for those parents with children moaning as Ben did. There are three Japanese sisters and several elder Korean sisters preparing very nutritious meals for the children. They make every effort to have fresh fruit available for two meals a day. They try cooking western foods, fried chicken, hamburgers, tuna fish and egg salad sandwiches; the children have western-type cold cereal, milk and juice available for breakfast. The dinners served while I was in Korea were beef stew, beef curry, bulgogi, fried chicken and steak, to mention a few. There was of course always rice, kimchi and kim (seaweed) available at each meal. No, they did not have pizza or macaroni and cheese, which perhaps explains why the children miss those meals, but it is Korea, and they have all the traditional fast food restaurants (McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc.) if the children wish.
The children actually have an idyllic life; someone prepares their meals, washes their clothes, cleans their dorms; their only chores are an occasional hand at dish-washing, separating and folding laundry, and keeping their bed and study area tidy. Ben had a lot more chores in the States. They are free to focus their energy on schoolwork. I was in Korea during school break so no studying occurred while I was there.
If you worried that your child was lonely or missed you on Christmas, rest assured that I would be surprised if they were unhappy. I come from a large family and thought I had seen Christmas trees laden with gifts, but that was nothing compared to the plethora under the Christmas tree in the Tamayo's room this year. The children had so many goodies, gifts and blessings, more than I could personally have ever given my son had he been at home. We spent days making cookies, Christmas caroling, shopping, gift wrapping, going to the amusement park, watching Christmas videos, listening to Christmas music, sharing stories, doing each other's hair (girls), playing hallway football (boys), making pi, atas, having sleep-overs. We went to a beautiful buffet at a fancy hotel on True God's Day and had a big Christmas party with other western members in the dorm cafeteria on Christmas Day.
The children attended a two-day workshop given by various western members in Korea. The speakers were excellent and spoke directly to the children. It was the best two-day workshop I have attended in many years. The children also spent many hard hours preparing for their own lecture contest. I don't have the words to express my impression of the lecture contest. The children conveyed such depth of understanding of God and Divine Principle that it is beyond words how many internal points they made their own.
I do not regret sending my son to Korea, although I miss him terribly. My heart aches every day that I cannot see him or hear his voice. I am grieved to know I will miss these months of his life. The changing of his voice, the jump in his height, the process of his becoming a man. I can't bring these experiences back-they will be lost to me forever, to the box of memories in my mind which treasures all the moments of my children's life. But all this heartache is worth the blessing he is receiving in Korea. I never appreciated what a blessing it truly was; my worries were more about how I could afford this or how each of us would cope with the separation. I never truly realized how great the blessing would be. I am grateful I was able to go and I am grateful to True Parents for starting this incredible program.
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