Kia ora koutou
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa
Ko Han te maunga
Ko Han te awa
Ko Korean Air te waka
No Seoul, Korea ahau
Ko 이 [-EE] toku whanau
Ko 혜지 [heji] toku ingoa
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa
It is a peculiar thing to welcome one to a digital space, one that is untethered to a particular physical locale.
So I ground my greeting from the land that I currently stand on, in Aotearoa, where I acknowledge my position as tauiwi, in gratitude of having been received and welcomed to be here.
I was born in 원주 Wonju, Korea where I grew up in a home of three generations along with my aunts and uncle who helped raise me. My parents, my sister and I migrated to Aotearoa when I was 11 and settled in Tāmaki Makaurau as our new home. Much of our smooth transition came from the active care and nurture of our local church communities. I went on to finish my schooling and spent the first three of my undergraduate years studying a premed degree in Physiology. I took some time off to work in the start-up industry in London and Berlin where I explored more creative career paths. I eventually came back to university and went onto graduate from the department of Sociology, University of Auckland.
Alongside my education, starting when in high school, I tutored more students than I can count, particularly from the Korean community. What started as favours for family friends, I ended up doing as my part time job for over 10 years, eventually establishing a small tutoring company with two hired tutors. Later on, I closed that chapter and transitioned to teaching at the university as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.
It was in the span of these years that I witnessed the complexities of growing up as an ethnically and racially marked 'Other' in the Anglo-West and the deafening silence around addressing these issues.
I have taken a path down academia because it was the first place where I encountered the conceptual tools to be able to make sense of my racialised experiences post-migration. I felt empowered for the first time in my life, being able to articulate my experiences in a vocabulary unknown to me till then.
But of course, the ivory tower is not the most welcoming place for all, nor is its language anywhere near accessible to those of us who often seek it most. I try my best, when teaching, to make content as easy to grasp as possible, and when time allows, publish what I'm researching in media outlets in a way that can be comprehended by all. If theory isn't out there in the world, in action, in practice, what use for it is there besides self-congratulatory stroking of the ego?
Besides my love for research and teaching, I am also a classically trained flautist. I like to spend my time listening to music, in the company of loved ones, in the sun, in the sea, going on hikes, hanging out with my friend's kids, cats and dogs. Take what you will, I am also a Libra. After all, I am a millennial, and I think my star sign quite aptly captures the nuances of my essence rather well.