Journey 2016 Essay

Kylie Brown

I think presence is the atmosphere of a person. - I knew only very little of what Koreans presence was actually like ...entertainment isn't the best perspective.... The way you hold yourself, how you walk, sit, speak, express, and every gesture you make speaks about who you are.

People asked me what I was hoping to get out of this Journey trip and I was unsure how to answer. I wanted to discover the rhythm and textures of Korea, the people and its beauty.

The act of "Being Present" can be difficult for me. I had to give permission to myself so that I could be open to learning about Korea's history, the temples, villages, and ALL THE FOOD. I soaked in cities, the movement of people, the landscapes, architecture, nature and even Andy's stories during each experience. I now have a new love that is filling up for this culture. Never have I experienced so many atmospheres in one trip.

There are people whose presence is encouraging.
I am very thankful for our families - Mr Lee // Mr Shin who opened your homes to us. Your inviting nature, wanting us to be well fed, your strength and your sincere concern has left me heartwarmed.

Even though our group was small, I have never been in the presence of so many adoptees. During our trip, I have appreciated your stories and honesty. These new friendships with each person including the conversations with past Journey members, Mr Min, and the staff (Robyn, Mike, Sunny, Mr Lee, Jiya, and Andy). I wouldn't ever trade or give up these connections and, of course, the laughter!

As I reflect or as Andy says: "Think About It" on all the things I've experienced such as the presence of this culture and the relationships I've made - I could never fathom what I was going to discover and have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Chairman Park, Andy and the company. Thank you for continuing to give opportunities for us to be present and create community to reconnect us back home.


Maghan MacKinnon

Hi everyone. My name is Maghan MacKinnon.

Just 2 short weeks ago, I left my home of Vancouver Canada, excited and nervous about my first trip back to Seoul. Looking back now, I feel changed and this is all thanks to the Journey program. As I reflect back on this trip, I'd like to share with you a few of the things I've learned so far.

First, the infamous Korean hospitality is by no means an exaggeration. We have all been welcomed with open arms everywhere we have visited and stayed. Both the Lee family and the Shin family went above and beyond to provide us with a glimpse into Korean households - they are as full of love and kindness and wonderful home cooked meals as those in Canada.

Secondly, Korea is a truly beautiful country. How lucky are we to have had the opportunity to explore such a big chunk of it in so little time - from Seoul to Sokcho to Busan to Jeju and back again. From museums to folk villages to street markets and palaces. Down to the beach and all the way up more than one mountain. We've learned that the language is not that difficult to grasp - sort of - and have lived on a diet of some of the most delicious foods. Because of this, I now feel connected to my heritage and rooted to the Korean community for the first time ever in my life.

Thirdly, as the saying goes, friends are the family you choose. I give thanks for having gotten to share these experiences with the other participants who have become another family to me. Although we've all had different upbringings, I've learned that there is still a common thread that runs deep and connects us all. I have so much love for our little group - your strength and humour and friendship inspires me.

The final lesson I will be leaving with has been that generosity of spirit is huge in Korea. There were so many people involved in making sure our trip was as amazing as it was. Chairman Park and the Company, Robyn, Mike, Sunny, Mr. Lee and Jiya. They all put in so much of their own time and effort and did this out of the goodness of their extremely huge hearts. I will never be able to thank them enough for this.

Last but definitely not least, I would like to thank Andy for everything. I know I am not alone in saying that I feel he has become the Korean father I've never known. I will truly miss his unique "Andy style" and his passion and love for this program has been felt every step of the way.

Back in Canada, my parents raised me with many stories of this country that they lived and loved for years before adopting me. It has been a dream to be able to walk in their footsteps 33 years later. I dedicate this trip to them and, from the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who helped this to come true. Thank you!


Jasmin Wessels

First of all I would like to say a huge thank you to Chairman Park, the Company, Andy, Sunny, Robyn, Mike, Mr Lee, Jiya, all the homestay families & everyone else who was involved in making Journey 2016 happen.
I feel extremely honoured & blessed to be part of the Journey program and would like to thank you all for your hard work & dedication and for making this trip such a special & unforgettable experience for us all.
I would personally like to thank the Lee family for their hospitality & generosity in allowing us to come into their home & be apart of their daily lives. This was by far one of my favourite parts of the trip as it really gave us a chance to experience daily life in Korea.
Being a Korean adoptee is definitely a unique experience & does come with its challenges along the way, however, I wouldn't have it any other way, as its apart of who I am and has made me the person I am today, which I am very thankful for!
It has also allowed me to participate in a program like Journey which has been equally rewarding & refreshing, as it has given me the opportunity to meet & get to know other people who understand what it's like to be adopted.
I came on this trip to learn more about the country where I was born, meet other adoptees & experience new things. But I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't know what we'd really be doing, seeing, eating or who I would meet; let alone if I could survive the 2 week trip with complete strangers.
However, I have thoroughly enjoyed every part of this trip! Every early morning, late night, bus ride & all the microphone announcements has been worth it.
Looking back to the first day when we had just arrived to now that we're at the end of the trip, it's amazing to think about everything we have seen, learnt & accomplished and the friendships that have formed in such a short amount of time!!
To my fellow journey family, I can't believe this trip is over. We made it!! Thank you to each of you for what you have brought to this trip! I have truly loved & valued getting to know each of you better over the past 2 weeks. I have loved hearing your stories, laughing with you & experiencing Korea for the first time with you. You are all amazing, inspire me and have made my life that much richer for knowing you.
This trip has allowed me to explore what Korea has to offer & experience the Korean way of life. We've slept on the floor, learnt to use those tiny bath towels, tried lots of different foods & visited many beautiful and amazing sights in Korea.
All these experiences will stay with me forever & have played an incredible part during my time here.
Korea will always hold a special place in my heart & life and I can't wait to come back to experience & see more.
I leave Korea a richer person from what I have learnt, seen, experienced & the people I have met along the way.
I leave Korea with a greater understanding of this country and what it has to offer.
I leave Korea even more proud to be a Korean adoptee.
Thank you!