Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guest Blogger: Sam

Our next guest blogger, has become a dear friend of mine here in Korea... not only do our hubby's work together, but she also has spent some time in Germany (and speaks Deutsch with me), and enjoys sewing and crafting just as much as I do! I asked Sam to guest blog post for me, and she's come up with a great little read for you... grab a coffee (maybe a yummy German pastry to go along with it) and enjoy some awesome fresh insight...

History – yours, mine and some in-between

The first time I lived over seas was the summer of 1990. I had one year of high school German under my belt and headed off to live with a wonderful German family outside of Frankfurt. I enjoyed learning more about the German people, keeping a list of my new words (which I still have) and traveling. We took trips around the local area and a big trip to the freshly former East Germany. I remember seeing East Germany for the first time. I didn’t know enough to understand the looks I received when I spoke English. Later after college I worked for Daimler-Benz. I lived in a dorm with other interns from all over the world. It was wonderful to have so many cultures together and often made for odd pairings. There were several girls from former Eastern countries. One girl in particular stood a bit further from me. As the months grew she began to talk to me and we became friends. When I left she wrote me a note telling me that she was surprised to learn I was not what she thought Americans were like. She had class each day to teach her of the horrible West. I did not meet the stereotypes. I also became close with a girl from Moscow and visited her that summer. She too commented that I was not what she had been taught. We were all blinded by the cold war and didn’t know it till we became friends.

The last time I lived in Germany I rented a room from an older German couple. They were great and made me feel at home. They would invite me to their apartment to cook and make schnapps. One evening we were looking at a map of the world. They asked for me to show them where I lived, went to university etc. We got to talking about their travels. The elderly man began to talk about his time in the Nazi army during World War II. He cried as he told me about being at D-day and how he was forced into the war by threats to his sisters and mother. He had to shoot to stay alive. I realized that my view of the war was based on my family and my history books but not on the real life people who were there; that I had not heard the other side of the story. I am not saying by any means that I agree with the Nazi worldview. I am saying that we so often only see our side of history or of current events. When I returned to the states the following summer I went to see Saving Private Ryan. I had to leave the theater. I could not take a side and cheer as I had always done.

Living in South Korea often makes me think of my time in Germany. I realize I held a stereotype of South Koreans and didn’t realize it. They are friendly and helpful, technical and cultured, big city dwellers and country folk. The live divided in a country whose buildings are just about all built since the end of the war. Many families have families in the north that they will never see again. The north is taught interesting ideas about the south and the rest of the world for that matter. The war and the timeline that lead up to it may not be just like my history books taught. I now have real life people and their culture to add to the mix.

We all see life through the glasses of our experience and our culture. It is interesting to put some one else’s glasses on. It often shows us that some times things are not wrong, just different or not the color we thought they were.
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  1. great post... must think of that...

  2. Thanks Sam, your thoughtful comments are much appreciated. It is important to "walk a mile" in someone else'e shoes before judging them, and yet how easy it to make judgments. Made me think.