First Fall Session of Culture School for Korean Adoptees

korea-times-article-on-fall-2017-culture-school.jpg

The Korea Times featured this story on the opening of Korean Culture School for Fall 2017. Here is the English translation.

ASIA Families (Executive Director Grace Song) began its first fall session for Korean Culture School on the 16th.

During the Opening Ceremony, which took place in United Korean Presbyterian Church (Pastor Haegil Kim) in Bethesda, MD, Grace Song stated she hopes that adopted children and their adoptive families learn more about Korea and instill Korean identity among themselves through Korean Culture School.

This semester, a total of 169 people are participating: 64 adopted children and teens, 70 adoptive parents, and 35 volunteers. Following the Opening Ceremony, children learned about the Taegeukgi (Korean Flag) and drew it.

The author of Vignette of Korean Cooking, Jae-Ok Chang (Cuisine researcher), demonstrated how to cook shrimp with pine nut sauce and Korean pear salad to the adoptive parents and received favorable comments.

Korean Culture School assigns children to different classes according to their ages and introduces Korean culture through Hangul, songs, crafts, and games. ASIA Families started 8 years ago to support Korean adoptees and their adoptive families.

For the adoptive parents, guest lectures will be given by experts in Korean culture and adoption: Mintaro Oba’s lecture about issues in North Korea in October, Professor Jisu Kim’s lecture (Director of Korean Studies at George Washington University) about women’s role in Korea in November, and an adoption expert’s lecture in December.

ASIA Families Receives Award for Korean Community Services

ASIA Families received a generous donation from the Washington Shining Star Church (WSSC) during an awards program on December 21, 2016 at the Korean Community Services Center in Annandale, VA. Thanks to Grace Song for translating this article from the Korea Daily.

ASIA Families founder Grace Song (second from right) receives award from WSSC

ASIA Families founder Grace Song (second from right) receives award from WSSC


Washington Shining Star Church gives away $23,000 to local community-based organizations.

Washington Shining Star Church (WSSC, Rev. Yong Woo Lim) continues to do good six years in a row.  

WSSC awarded donations to seven different Korean community organizations at the  Korean Community Services Center in Annandale on December 21, 2016.  

Elder Eunshik Kwak, the representative from WSSC, gave donations to following organizations;

  • Korean Community Services Center (Board Chair Sung Hee Lim): $5000
  • Korean American Scholarship Foundation (Henry Choi): $5000
  • Washington Family Counseling Center (Sunghee Lee): $2000
  • Global Children’s Foundation (Chair Mok Ja Sohn): $2000
  • Washington Korean Senior’s Association ( Kyu Hong Yeon): $2000
  • Virginia Disabled Korean Association (Young Ock Kim): $2000
  • ASIA Families (Grace Song): $2000
  • A local Fire Department, Police Station, and Public Library: $1000 each

Elder Kwak states the WSSC rolls over only 10 percent of their budget to the next year and gives away all remaining funds to the community. He also added his church members are not financially affluent but God blessed them and they want to share His blessings.

The community organization leaders thanked the church and church members, and they affirmed that the donations would be used effectively.  

Monica Lee with Washington Family Counseling Center mentioned that churches usually administer their own programs within their church boundaries, but WSSC has become a model for sharing love with other people outside of their church. 

Mok Ja Sohn with Global Children’s Foundation stated that giving to the community organizations is a more effective way to serve the community than churches trying to serve the community directly.  

Grace Song with ASIA Families explained that the donation from WSSC would be used to sponsor Korean adoptees who have not been to Korea since their adoption. 

Jae Hoon Shim  
Korea Daily 

Camp Rice: This Is What the Love of Korea Is About

Both the Korea Times and the Korea Daily featured stories today on Camp Rice 2016. Here is the English translation.

Children and adults adopted from Korea, along with Korean-American volunteers, are showing off Taegukki that they made with Sylvia Kim of the Washington Korean Paper Folding Institute

Children and adults adopted from Korea, along with Korean-American volunteers, are showing off Taegukki that they made with Sylvia Kim of the Washington Korean Paper Folding Institute

This past weekend,  a Korean Culture Camp, Camp Rice, took place at the Pearlstone Retreat Center near Baltimore, MD.  ASIA Families hosted their annual camp between July 28 and July 30. The theme for this year was Love of Korea.  

Opening ceremony began with adopted children’s hanbok march and singing Korean and American anthems led by Kwang Gyu Lee, singer.  Minsoo Park, the minister counselor of the Ministry of Health and Welfare at the Korean Embassy, gave welcoming remarks.   Esq. Jong Joon Chun with the Washington Law Firm shared his life story about how his failures contributed to his successes. He shared that his successes would not have been possible without help from his parents, friends and families. He encouraged adopted children to have “UThinking,” both positive thinking and caring for others, and inspired them to become leaders to change the world. 

Selah Art Group led by Chunghee Kim enacted several Korean folktales in a fun skit format. Children's classes consisted of paper folding taught by Sylvia Kim, cooking classes, Sangmo turning, team building, folktales, outdoor activities and Korean language.  

Karin Price, an adoption professional, worked with adoptive parents and went over the developmental stages of adopted children. Adoptive parents also had a chance to learn Korean language, Tae Kwon Do, traditional dance as well as listening to adult adoptee panelists’ talks.

Special visitors to Camp Rice included Dan Magnolia, Korean adoptee guitarist, and Stan Kang, a Korean American actor who told the audience about how his identity as a Korean American shaped throughout the years and his experiences as an adoptive father of a child from Korea. 

Two adult adoptees received scholarships of $500 each with designated donations from two Korean community members (Sangja Rhee and Danny Shin).

Korea Times and Korea Daily Feature Our Microaggressions Workshop

Last week, both the Korea Times and the Korea Daily featured our Microaggressions Workshop for Adult Adoptees on June 18. Here is the English translation.

Participants in the June 18 workshop on microaggressions

Participants in the June 18 workshop on microaggressions

ASIA Families hosted a workshop for adult adoptees on June 18, 2016 at the Korea-US Science Cooperation Center in Vienna, VA. The topic for the workshop was how to respond to microaggressions. 

Microaggressions are roughly defined as everyday slights, intentional or unintentional, about race, gender, disability, or orientation that accumulate over time and become isolating, exhausting, and anger-inducing experiences. The workshop begin with welcoming remarks by Minsoo Park, the minister counselor for the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea and was facilitated by Lilly Gilmour. A panel of local figures in the adoption community, including Pacific Miss Asian American, Kira Omans, came together to share their stories and how they found ways to proactively address microaggressions. Ms. Omans was joined by two other panelists, Jonathan Albert and Matthew Gong.

During the workshop, participants shared their own stories and techniques, and then learned about additional methods for addressing microaggressions using the Critical Conversations model. In the end, the responses were often that it is good to say something humorous to defuse the situation and highlight the absurdity of a comment, but that it depends on the situation and who is involved, especially if it is in a work situation.

It is the hope of ASIA Families that the attendees walked away better prepared to handle microaggressions, and that their readiness will empower them to express themselves.

Microaggressions Workshop, June 18: Agenda Now Available

We are delighted to announce the agenda for our new workshop, "How to Respond to Microaggressions." 

Welcome from the Korean Embassy and ASIA Families (1:00 p.m.)
Mr. Minsoo Park, the minister counselor of the Ministry of Health and Welfare from the Korean Embassy, and Grace Song, executive director of ASIA Families, will welcome participants and express the Korean government's support for adult adoptees from Korea.

Introductions and Getting Acquainted (1:10 p.m.)
After Mr. Park and Ms. Song depart, Lilly Gilmour will introduce the panel and set the stage for participants to meet each other and interact. Lilly is an adult adoptee from Korea and member of the ASIA Families Board of Directors.

What Are Microaggressions? (1:25 p.m.)
This segment includes a video, presentation, and discussion on the topic of microaggressions.

Adult Adoptee Panel: Our Stories (1:50 p.m.)
Three panelists will share their stories and personal experiences with microaggressions. The session will be moderated by Lilly Gilmour, with time after the presentation for questions and discussion.

  • Kira Omans, special guest panelist, 2015 Pacific Miss Asian American
  • Jonathan Lee Albert, member of the ASIA Families Board of Directors and analyst at Attain, LLC
  • Matthew Gong, language analyst for the United States Army

Break (2:50 p.m)

The Crucial Conversations Model (3:05 p.m.)
Lilly will provide an introduction to the Crucial Conversations model and how it can be used to respond to microaggressions.

Small Group Exercises: Scenarios (3:35 p.m.)

Group Discussion (4:35 p.m.)

Conclusions and Closing Announcement: Adoption Citizenship Act (4:50 p.m.)

Dinner with Adoption Links, DC (5:00 p.m.)
Optional and lots of fun!

For workshop details, see Responding to Microaggressions: An Exclusive Workshop for Adult Adoptees.

Photo credit: Kiyun Kim, Racial Microaggressions photo series

Knowing My Identity Through Korean Cultural Education

This week, the Korea Times featured our closing ceremony of Korean Culture School for Spring 2016. Here is the English translation.

Smiling children and teachers at Korean Culture School

Smiling children and teachers at Korean Culture School

ASIA Families hosted Korean Culture School closing ceremony, also running an on-line fundraiser 

ASIA Families (Executive Director Grace Song) hosted the end of the semester ceremony on May 14, 2015. Korean Culture School, located at the United Korean Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD, offers classes to learn about Korean culture through classes that teach Korean holidays, music, hanbok traditions, games, cooking and arts and craft for Korean adoptees and their adoptive families.  

This semester there were 220 participants consisting five classes of children, teens and adoptive parents. Parent program offerings included presentations from North Korea issues and defectors, Korean traditional art, and discussions after watching an adoption movie. 

During the closing ceremony, children offered carnations to their parents, honoring their love.   A Presidential Volunteer Award (Bronze level) was awarded to Soon Ja Ji, the Korean Culture School director. 

Grace Song stated it has been almost 8 years since ASIA Families started serving adoptive families in the Washington, DC area and offering cultural education. ASIA Families’ programs aim at supporting Korean adoptees not to lose their Korean heritage and to become leaders who contribute to both Korea and the United State.

ASIA Families is planning a KAD conference on June 18, 2016 and a Korean Culture Camp, Camp Rice, on July 28-30, 2016.   

An online fundraiser is taking a place currently. Visit at  https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Help-Asia-Families-To-Support-Korean-Adoptees to support ASIA Families’ mission.

Younghee Chung, Korea Times

Responding to Microaggressions: An Exclusive Workshop for Adult Adoptees

From Kiyun Kim's Racial Microaggressions photo series

From Kiyun Kim's Racial Microaggressions photo series

"You speak really good English for an Asian."

"You're Korean? North or South?" 

"Where are you REALLY from?"

If you're an adult adoptee from Korea or other Asian country, you've probably heard comments like this since you were a kid. Have you ever wanted to talk with other adoptees about their experiences? Or learn how to deal with these kinds of questions and remarks?

An Exclusive Workshop for Adult Adoptees

ASIA Families invites adult adoptees from Korea (KADs) and other Asian countries to join us on June 18, 2016 for a special event — an opportunity to share your experiences with microaggressions and learn techniques for dealing with these microaggressions in your daily lives.

The workshop will focus on the Crucial Conversations Model and how it can be used to respond to microaggressions, whether at work or in your personal life. 

The event will include stories from panelists, small group discussions, and an optional dinner with Adoption Links, DC (ALDC) afterward. 
  
WHEN:  Saturday, June 18 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. 
Followed by an optional dinner with Adoption Links, DC  (ALDC)
 
WHERE:  KUSCO: The Korea-US Science Cooperation Center
1952 Gallows Road, Suite 330, Vienna, VA 22182
View in Google Maps

WHO:  This workshop was designed for adult adoptees from Korea (KADs). Adult adoptees from other Asian countries are welcome as we ll.

FEE:  $30 for each participant. We offer a discounted rate of $25 for college students (undergraduate and graduate).

ATTIRE: Business casual. 

QUESTIONS:  Please contact Lilly Gilmour at lillygilmour@gmail.com

2016 Korean Government Scholarship Program for International Graduate Students

Study in Korea: the Land of Higher Education Challenge in Korea. Benefits of Studying in Korea.

The Korean Government Scholarship Program is designed for college graduates who want to pursue a master's or doctorate degree at a Korean University. Scholarships are awarded to 490 candidates from participating countries.

This scholarship program, sponsored by the Korean Government, provides generous benefits, including:

  • Round-trip economy-class airfare
  • Monthly allowance, research allowance, and relocation allowance
  • Language training in Korean for one year 
  • Full tuition at one of 66 designated universities in Korea for two to three years, depending on the program
  • Medical insurance

Candidates must have completed their bachelor's or master's degree by August 31, 2016. Candidates cannot be Korean citizens.

Fifteen applicants are selected from United States citizens who apply through the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the United States. Of those, three slots are reserved for Korean adoptees.

The application deadline is March 17, 2016.

For more details, see:

You may also want to consult the websites for the program:

 

ASIA Families' Korean Culture School Begins Its Spring Session with New Year's Traditions

This week, the Korea Times featured our first session of Korean Culture School for Spring 2016. Here is the English translation.

Learning Yut-Nori, a traditional New Year's Game, at Korean Culture School 

Learning Yut-Nori, a traditional New Year's Game, at Korean Culture School 


About 180 Korean adoptees and adoptive parents gathered and learned about New Year's Day traditions.

ASIA Families (Exec. Director Grace Song) began its first session of Korean Culture School at the United Korean Presbyterian Church (Rev. Haegil Kim) in Bethesda, MD. This semester, 59 children and teens, 70 parents, and 47 volunteers are participating. 

After an opening ceremony, participants learned about Korea’s unique cultural transitions around Sullal (New Year’s Day). Children learned about New Year’s bows and pocket money after bowing to adults. They also had a chance to discuss about differences between Korean holidays and US holidays. Some children learned K-pop dance and had a chance to sample rice cakes. 

Adoptive parents participated in a panel discussion on birth family reunions. Panelists included two adult adoptees who had reunited with their birth families and an adoptive parent who has been communicating with her child’s birth family in Korea.  This semester, the parent program will also include a lecture from a North Korean refugee, a session on Korea tourism and UNESCO sites, and a presentation on Korean art. 

Korean Culture School sessions for children use a model of team teaching. A Korean adoptee and Korean American lead class activities together. The Culture School’s program goals are to instill Korean identity among Korean adoptees and empower them to be leaders. 

ASIA Families plans to do active fundraising events to offer scholarships for adopted youth and expand opportunities to invite adoptees to visit Korea in the future.

ASIA Families Culture School Featured in Korea Times and Korea Daily

This past week, both of these Korean language newspapers featured our closing ceremony for Korean Culture School for fall 2015. Here is the English translation.

Korean Culture School for Korean adoptees and their adoptive families celebrated their semester end.

“Wearing Korean hanbok and learning Korean holidays”

ASIA Families (Executive Director Grace Song), a non-profit organization that provides services for Korean adoptees and their adoptive families, had a semester end ceremony for Korean Culture School (KCS) on December 12. KCS takes place in KCS takes place in United Korean Presbyterian Church (Pastor Haegil Kim)  in Bethesda, MD.    The fall semester of KCS started past September and has been attended by 75 adopted children, over 45 volunteers, and 75 adoptive parents totaling over 200 people.  This semester children learned about Korean culture and holidays such as chuseok and sullal.

A Korean hanbok company, Ye Dam (Owner Minsoo Chu), donated children’s hanboks so some children and teens were able to wear hanboks and gave big bows to adoptive parents during the semester end ceremony.   

Grace Song, the executive director of ASIA Families, states that ASIA Families ran Korean Culture Camp, Camp Rice, a birthland tour to Korea, Sole to Seoul Walk-a-thon in the year of 2015 and will prepare quality post adoption services for the year of 2016. 

Mrs. Chansoon Holly Kim received a special certificate of appreciation for her tireless work for Korean adoptees.  Devon Lee of Lake Braddock High school and Ms. Susan Schulken, an adoptive mom of a Korean child, received bronze level the Presidential Volunteer Awards for their services. 

All children at KCS received special presents from the SCHOLAS (Owner Sunchul Kim), a Korean based 3D puzzle company.   

ASIA Families was founded in 2009 to support Korean adoptees and adoptive families.  ASIA Families has been providing educational programs to share Korean culture and instill Korean identity among adoptees.

Korea Times article

Korea Daily article

Cooking Class: Making Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew)

doenjang-jjigae.jpg

In November, the focus of the parents' session for Korean Culture School was shopping for, cooking, and eating Korean food. Lydia Hyun Kim of Selah Arts Group, who led a videotaped shopping expedition at H-Mart earlier in the month, treated us to a cooking lesson. We learned how to make Doenjang Jjigae, a Korean comfort food that's easy to prepare and perfect for cold winter nights. 

Lydia kindly provided us with a PowerPoint that provides details on the ingredients for doenjang jjigae as well as step-by-step instructions for making the dish. It's easy to add and substitute ingredients to make it mild or spicy, vegetarian or pescetarian. And, as with all Korean food, it's healthy and tasty.

Making a Korean Dish: Doenjang jjigae (된장찌개)

Tae Kwon Do, W.I.S.E. Up! and Bi Bim Bap: Korean Culture School's First Session for Fall 2015

Last Saturday, ASIA Families welcomed over 200 children, teens, parents, and volunteer staff to the first session of Korean Culture School for fall 2015. 

New for Fall 2015: Tae Kwon Do for Kids

The wonderful team from Selah Arts Group of Lancaster, PA returned to Culture School with a new program this fall: tae kwon do for ages 3-12. The enthusiastic shouts of TKD commands echoed through the halls all morning long as Selah Arts led the four children's classes in separate sessions.

W.I.S.E. Up! for Parents: Help Your Kids Handle Tough Questions

Children who are adopted often hear questions and comments from other children that are intrusive and sometimes wounding, and that make them feel uncomfortable. For children in transracial or transcultural families, these questions and comments may begin as early as age 3 (“Why don’t you look like your mom?” “That can’t be your dad.”). As children get older, the types of questions change, particularly as friends and classmates begin to be curious about adoption (“Why were you adopted?” “Where are your real parents?”).

To empower kids to handle comments and questions about adoption, the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) developed the W.I.S.E. Up! program. W.I.S.E. Up! gives children and teens (and parents, too!) the power to choose if, when and how to share their adoption story with others.

Ellen Singer, LCSW-C and senior adoption therapist and trainer at C.A.S.E., led the Saturday program for parents. She described the kinds of comments and questions that children typically encounter and how these change as children progress through the various developmental stages. Then, she described the W.I.S.E. UP! program and shared how to teach these proven techniques to your children:

  • W = Walk Away
  • I = It's Private
  • S = Share Something
  • E = Educate Others
Adult adoptees and teens serve bi bim bap for lunch

Teens Serve Bi Bim Bap for Lunch

After the parents' and children's sessions ended. families reunited for a delicious lunch of bi bim bap, served by members of the Teen Club and adult adoptee volunteers. 



"I am Korean"... Adoptees' journey to finding their Korean identity

2-week long ASIA Families Tour - 25 participants learned and experienced Korean culture

Korean Adoptive families and adult adoptees from ASIA Families visited Korea for a 2-week homeland tour and learned about their Korean identity as well as Korean culture.

The participants for the ASIA Families Tour visited Seoul, Gyeongju, and Busan from the 23rd of June through the 6th of July and experienced cultural and historical heritage of Korea.

The adoptees and the adoptive families also stayed with Korean host families to experience everyday life in Korea, as well as visiting Dongmyung Elementary School to serve as honorary teachers.

During the interview at the elementary school visit, Dana Schlafman (44) said "I was found near Miari, Seoul in 1974, and was adopted to the United States when I was three. Seeing the children at the elementary school made me feel like this would have been my life and the kind of education I would have received if I were not adopted." Schlafman teared up when saying that he has "strong feelings of identifying with being Korean."

Moreover, the adult adoptees visited Jang Dae Hyun North Korean Defectors School during their stay in Busan. The adult adoptees and the students had special time to connect with each other.

The tour schedule also included visiting adoptee's birth cities, adoption agencies, foster parents, and orphanage/nursery, as well as one of the adult adoptees meeting with his birth father.

Grace Song, the founder of ASIA, said "Homeland tour for adoptive families and adult adoptees has two main goals. First, for Korean adoptees of all ages to develop pride in their Korean identity; Second, for the adult adoptees to develop their leadership skills through interactions with various people all throughout Korea." 

ASIA Families Homeland Tour 2015 was sponsored by Jung-Hee Kim, director of Selah Art Group. 

ASIA Families Culture School Featured in Korea Daily

On May 12, Korea Daily featured the closing ceremonies for Korean Culture School, Spring 2015. Korea Daily is the most-read Korean language newspaper in the United States, published in nine major metropolitan areas.

ASIA 입양인 봉사회 한국문화학교 종강식

ASIA Families hosted the Korean Culture School semester closing ceremony on May 9, 2015

ASIA Families, Inc.,  led by Grace Song, hosted the semester closing ceremony for Korean Culture School at the Korean United Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD on May 9, 2015. The closing ceremony was attended by adopted children, Korean American volunteers, adult adoptees and adoptive parents - total 180 people. Participants enjoyed children’s performances  and presentations on what they have learned this semester. 

During this last session, adoptive parents had small group book discussions after reading books on Korean culture and adoption issues.   ASIA Families presented red carnation paper flowers to all adoptive parents and adult adoptees who are parents to show appreciation of their parental love.  These flowers were hand made by volunteers.  

ASIA Families implemented its first semester of Korean Culture School six years ago when there were only twenty adopted children.  Now the school serves seventy-five adopted children. 

ASIA Families is running online fundraiser to raise funds to sustain post adoption services. Grace Song states that more Korean American donors are needed to sustain post adoption services for adoptees.