So, y’all know like how I am the first Nigerian-Korean you know, right?! Well, I am here to introduce you to the first Korean-African - Soo, or Joshua (you will get this reference once you listen) who speaks Pidgin English fluently. He’s as African at heart as I am Korean and as passionate about Sierra Leone as I am about Korea. The only difference is that I am yet to set foot in Korea. I always describe my guests as amazing or wonderful; Soo is all these and much more and one of the spectacular 20-something year-olds I have met. Soo is Korean, born in England in 1995, but raised in Sierra Leone. His parents work as missionaries, and due to unforeseen conflicts and disasters, he has moved around quite a bit. For now, though, he is in Michigan, USA for his studies but hopes to go back abroad. In this episode, we talked about the duality of being African while looking Korean. The advantages of being a third culture person and how growing up in Africa is helping him excel in his studies. We also talked about first-world problems, African values, weighing wants vs. needs, and learning how to empathize with others who are not like us.
PS: He reminds of me of an upcoming Albert Schweitzer (which coincidentally is one of his role models), and I think that as his nuances become more pronounced, he might just be as great as Dr. Schweitzer, if not greater. I met Soo through Adrian – a mutual friend.
Fun facts about Soo:
He is currently pursuing a dual degree in medicine and a Ph.D. in Microbiology (DO-PhD).
He loves a lot of Nigerian artistes, especially Yemi Alade.
He is passionate about social causes in Africa such as domestic abuse, patriarchy, unequal education between boys and girls, and in improving the healthcare infrastructure.
He had a pet hedgehog named Collette, who recently died. #RIPCollette
He speaks three languages fluently: Korean, English, and Creole. He speaks advanced French, and he is intermediate in Spanish. He is interested in finishing Arabic and may want to continue with Japanese.
He loves Starbucks for a unique reason (find out why), and it’s not about him being bourgeois.
He started the African Student Association (ASA) chapter in his college during his undergrad years to unite his friends from Madagascar, Rwanda, and Ghana to create a family of their own.
Despite being a missionary kid, he tried out different religions before deciding to be Christian.
He is a foodie and can make jollof rice, albeit the Sierra Leone variety.
Anywhere you find yourself, try to search for a supportive community that can draw you in.
Have a consistent circle of friends.
Actions (especially subtle ones) speak louder than words.
Being from Africa confers us with an ability not to forget the most important things and values.
Parents can help their TCKs thrive better by being more open about struggles.
Notable Quotes by Soo:
“Home is where I make myself comfortable. When people ask me where my 고향 /gohyang/ (Korean word for hometown) is, I always say Sierra Leone because that is where my heart truly belongs. In traveling around a lot, longing for just one place that I cannot go back to for a while made it very depressing and hard. So, what I ended up doing was making a home wherever I went. So right now, while my home is in Michigan, my heart is still in Sierra Leone, and it will never leave that place.”
"A lot of kids like me wanted stability, one place, one home, in a way I kinda missed that."
"As a scientific researcher, I’d like to be on the forefront of developing therapies, researching, characterizing diseases and be able to provide health care to people."
"Around a table, I have the table manners of a French, the greeting manners of a Korean, the respectful manner of a Korean and an African."
WIth Love from the Koreans,
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