Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Assimilation of Immigrants

Catholic Digest has an article about a priest's experience in the United States doing pastoral work for a Korean community. Most of the children don't understand Korean, so he had to prepare sermons for the young people in English. He used this time to work on his English, but he felt a need for outside help.

A young girl Eun Mi, a college student fluent in Korean, helped him. Her parents had immigrated to the States some 30 years before, and undergoing many difficulties, married.  Eun Mi was the first child, born in the States. They started a grocery store,that enabled them to live comfortably. 

During vacation time, Eun Mi started working part-time in a clothing store run by Americans. She wanted to take care of her own expenses and told the priest about her feelings. The work was difficult for her. She had to stand up all day dealing with the customers. After the first day her back hurt, the calves of her legs were swollen,and that night, she found herself groaning.

The next morning she was so sick that she had no desire to go to work and was about to telephone the store to tell them that she would not continue. As she picked up the telephone her parent's 30 years of working everyday doing just what she was groaning about came to mind. She put down the telephone,and with new determination went to work.

Although born in the United States she experienced discrimination because of her yellow skin. She can only surmise the discrimination that her parents felt since they spoke English poorly. While she was saying this, the priest saw tears come to her eyes.

Recently,migrant is a word often heard. In Korea, we have those who come to Korea for a better life. Many are here to support their families back in their homeland. We have the refugees from North Korea and those who are wives of Korean men, mostly in the farming areas. Korea is becoming a multicultural society, slowly; they are working to overcome discrimination which for a society that has been homogeneous is not easy.

Children who come to Korea with their mothers because of divorce and remarriage to a Korean and refugees who come from the North find it difficult to find work and assimilate. Often the difficulty is the way they speak Korean. They may be fluent, but their accents give them away and often that's all that's needed to keep  them from finding work. Efforts are made to rid themselves of the accent, but the need is for the society to accept the refugees from the North and foreigners and assimilate them.