Day 5

Front of Chungang Church

Today, I went to one of the largest Korean churches in BsAs, Chungang Church, which apparently has over 1,000 members (but can’t say for sure). It has two services: the first at 10am and the second at 12pm. Then there is the young adult bible study at 4:30pm and the young adult service at 6pm. I decided to attend the first service because my contact from La Associación Coreana en la Argentina was a part of the chorus in the first service. I noticed that a lot of elderly people (mostly male) attended the first service, which was a bit more traditional, ie. they sang hymnals instead of contemporary christian songs, and a bit more structured and serious. I noticed the elderly male presence when we were singing the hymnals– all of the voices were in the low range– and after having been on a campus full of women, it was certainly distinct and noticeable. : ) The second service (with the same sermon!) was more accessible to the younger to middle-aged generation, I think. The songs were a bit more contemporary, there was a praise team(ie. electric guitar, bass, etc) as well as a chorus, and the pastor preached in a more lively, less formal manner. Not to mention, there were more women (any age– but predominantly middle-aged to elderly).

After the first service, my contact introduced me to the pastor and other church leaders, and then I was introduced to the youth, who were extremely friendly and understanding. Ironically, they did most of the questioning/interviewing than me, who had come there expressly for that purpose. : ) I figured that I shouldn’t bombard them with questions when they didn’t really know who I was. I tried to explain to people why I was there— and I guess I still hadn’t clearly conceptualized even for myself what exactly I was doing here in BsAs– because when I tried to explain my stipend, it didn’t really make much sense to people. First, I started off by explaining that I received a beca (scholarship/stipend) from my school to do something like an news internship/journalism project. I said it was a two part scholarship: I was supposed to try to find an internship with a news agency while photodocumenting the immigrant groups in BsAs. I don’t think people really understood the photodocumenting, so then my explanation kind of simply morphed into a journalism “internship” about Korean immigrants– but people didn’t really understand how that was an internship if I didn’t really work at any org– and I don’t really either. So now, I’ve perfected how I should present myself and explain why exactly  I’m here:
I am here on a school project to find out about the Korean immigrants, past and present (and hopefully, the future too).
I think this is the most direct way of explaining why I want to meet them, and what I want to investigate/research.

That being said, I haven’t even really begun taking pictures because I’ve been cautious about security in the Korean areas (not really because Koreans will mug you, but because the Korean communities are in struggling neighborhoods), and I don’t think it’s appropriate of me to start taking pictures of people when I don’t know them. It’s rather rude, and I think it’s important to get to know the subjects before photodocumenting. So pardon me for the lack of photos up until now. Also, it is just my fifth day here…

The youth were so friendly that they invited me out to dinner after the youth service– and they even paid for it. I was so impressed by their hospitality and warmth– I really don’t know how to return their kindness.

One thing to note– I thought most Asians were genetically unable to roll their tongues to create a “rrrrr” sound– but I found that all of the Korean-Argentine youth had no trouble rolling their tongues. And I’m certainly getting better at doing this– so, the inability of Korean Americans to do so is really because we’re just not used to doing it. It just takes a little practice. : )

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