Day 33

Day: Church hopping

Today in the morning I went to a protestant church that was not exclusively Korean. I was invited to attend this church by a teacher at ICA (Instituto Coreano-Argentino), whom I had met while visiting. Her daughter belongs to those who were lucky enough to be educated abroad; she finished high school in the States and was recently accepted into the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

She comes back during summer vacation to visit friends and family. She had originally wanted to study international relations but instead chose to study biology in order to become a dentist. Although the high school grad likes living in Nevada and wants to live in the LA area in California after finishing her carrera (major), she feels like she is home when back in Argentina. When asked if she wants to live in Argentina once she becomes a dentist, she told me that it wouldn’t really make any sense to return, since she went abroad to study so that she could have a better living standard abroad and a steady job.

I felt bad because the political-economic situation in her country compels bright, young minds to leave their country in search of a better life; brain drain. This is also very typical of Koreans; they will do whatever they can to give their children a better future. They will send their children to: extra-curricular activities, after-school cram sessions, private tutors, private schools, even to foreign countries (like Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, etc. I even met a Korean boy in Vienna who came to study at the Universität Wien).

The girl’s parents came to Argentina probably as economic migrants– they came in search of more opportunities and a better future, but ironically, she herself will probably end up living in the US because of the higher living standard. It’s kind of ridiculous the amount of opportunities that are simply available to me just because I was born in the US, while other people scramble like mad to just be on the same playing field as me.

What I’ve also noticed and that makes me angry is that the products that are exported here are more shoddily made than the same product exported to/manufactured in the US. For example, I was in a Carrefour and I saw a ScotchBrite sponge for cleaning– the same brand that you could find in a Walmart or Target in the US. But the sponge was really shoddily manufactured and seemed like it wouldn’t last a month. I don’t like how companies manufacture according to a country’s socio-economic situation. I’m embarrassed that I have access to better quality products simply because I live in the US.

Chilling in San Telmo with the ICA teacher's daughter

Afterwards, I hung out with the teacher’s daughter in San Telmo; we went to the Feria de Antigüidades, which is 2-3 blocks from my casita. I had come here about 2-3 weeks ago with the sunim and another girl about 5 years older than me. In Korean culture, if you are the older person, you are supposed to take care of the younger person, even if you don’t really know the person that well. It’s just kind of like a code of conduct. For example: The last time I went with the older girl and the sunim, the older girl bought us ice cream and paid for my transportation and even offered to buy me a wallet– even though it was only my second time meeting her. I think it’s nice because it’s a system of taking care of people. I’m really bad, however, at being the older one who takes care of people because I’m the younger one in the family and I usually don’t hang out with people who are younger than me– in addition to the fact that I don’t really hang out with Koreans that much– so it doesn’t really occur to me that I should be acting a certain way. But today, I remembered and was very much the 언니 (uh-nee, “older sister”). I was very impressed with myself. I lead the way (because to my surprise, the girl didn’t know how to use public transportation here at all) to San Telmo, and then I bought her ice cream and paid for her subte ticket and wrote for her directions for how to go back home.

courtyard of Chungang Church

Information/security booth in front of the church

After I sent her home, I went to another church, Chungang Church– one of the largest Korean churches in BsAs. I had gone to it 2 other times. There is bible study at 4:30pm, and a youth service at 6pm that lasts until around 8pm. The sermon is in Korean, but there is a translation in Castellano that you can listen to if you tune into a specific radio station. Praise is in both Korean and Castellano. It’s very strange, because most youth services in Korean-American churches are almost always in English, and I thought it was interesting that service was in Korean here in BsAs, because obviously Castellano is the more familiar and preferred language. I don’t like to stay very late after the service because I have to walk to the subte station and take public transit back home– so I’m usually anxious to leave. Consequently, I don’t have much time to talk to them or hang out. However, the kids are really friendly. Today there was a girl from New Zealand who had previously come here for 4 months to study

Youth service at 6pm

Castellano; she had come again to visit her boyfriend at the church.

Apparently there are a lot of people from all over the world who temporarily come to BsAs and leave (like me). I don’t know if this is good, because then the people who live here want to leave too and don’t want to stay here either. People have told me that there are a lot of Argentines who carry two passports, and a lot of Argentines that I’ve met want to leave and go traveling and/or live somewhere else. It is sad if a population (or at least the middle to upper classes, ie. the educated elite), particularly the youth, isn’t content with living in its own country. It doesn’t help with nation-building and creating an engaged and responsible citizenry.

Anyways, here are some things to accomplish this week:
-revisit el ICA to take photos
-revisit la iglesia católica to take photos
-revisit Avenida Avellaneda to take photos

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