Search
Recent Tweets

Social Links
« When nice is not pleasant | Main | Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL »
Monday
Oct132014

This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi

We celebrated Thanksgiving a bit differently this year by signing up for Share Thanksgiving through Engage Nova Scotia. The program matches host families with new Canadians, who then connect and coordinate the details around getting together for a meal.

I was matched with Ok Jo, who moved to Halifax 10 months ago from South Korea with her two teenaged daughters, Yoojeong and Yoojin. Though her family sounded like a good demographic fit with my family (our children being approximately the same age), I felt nervous nonetheless. What if we had trouble understanding one another? What if Ok Jo and her girls didn't enjoy turkey dinner? Would we find enough common ground with this family of new Canadians to relax and connect? I mulled it over but decided this was our chance to extend ourselves a bit, share our many blessings, and hopefully learn from one family what made them leave their home and move to our province.

Though we had some challenges connecting by email, with help from Engage Nova Scotia we chatted first on the phone and immediately my concerns abated. Ok Jo was friendly, excited, and grateful to be invited to our home. She asked what she could contribute to the meal so I asked for kimchi, a red spicy fermented Korean side dish made with cabbage and radishes. It is an unusual complement to turkey, but she seemed delighted to be asked. "You like kimchi? I bring you some. Homemade," Ok Jo said. I could sense her smiling through the phone.

Though they spoke little English when they arrived here last year, it's clear Ok Jo and her girls have been studying and practicing. Ok Jo joined a conversation group at the YWCA where she learned about Share Thanksgiving and seized it as an opportunity to meet people and find out firsthand what the holiday is all about. She explained that in Korea it doesn't exist; their two big holidays are based on the lunar calendar and include lunar New Year and a mid-autumn festival. Ok Jo was curious about whether the small pumpkins on the table were the same vegetable we placed on our front porch, and she highly praised my mother's cranberry sauce.

Her girls were lovely and well mannered, trying all sorts of new foods beyond the Canadian foods they'd tried to date (donairs and poutine). They good-naturedly tolerated our many questions about their lives in Korea vs. their lives here. They told us they like their school here (which coincidentally is my old junior high school), and find math much easier. They are active in Taekwondo, enjoy singing and especially karaoke, and miss their friends in Korea but keep in touch with them via Skype. Their Korean friends, they said, are envious of their lives in Canada.

Ok Jo praised our wonderful universities, natural beauty, climate, and freedoms. She's travelled to the Annapolis Valley and South Shore, and in a couple of weeks when her husband arrives (he works on container ships and is away for months at a time) they will tour Cape Breton. A funny moment came when she described her surprise seeing the gay pride parade — gay couples have no legal protections or rights to marry in South Korea. When I asked about North Korea the family politely explained that it's easier not to discuss the situation there, so we moved on to conversations about clothes, cell phones, and dating. As I drove her home, Ok Jo told me she used to be a teacher and would like to teach young children here in Nova Scotia. I feel optimistic for her and her family, and for my province. It is unquestionably enriched by having individuals and families such as these interested in immigrating here.

We learned lots, ate well, and laughed together. I enjoyed this turkey and kimchi dinner perhaps more than any other Thanksgiving given our opportunity to share it with these new Canadians who are now new friends.

References (17)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: GoPro Stabilizer
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Response: GoPro Remote
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Response: BB8 Toy
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Response: Williamson County
    Texas House
  • Response
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Response: GoPro Attachments
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Response: GoPro Selfie Stick
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Response: Go Pro Remote
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Response: GoPro carrying bag
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi
  • Response
    Response: GoPro Selfie Stick
    Alison DeLory - Blog - This Year's Thanksgiving? Turkey & Kimchi

Reader Comments (3)

So wonderful!

October 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

How wonderful to share your table. We did this at Christmas once and it was a great feeling. Welcome Ok Jo and your daughters to Nova Scotia! ..Jennifer

October 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen

What a wonderful experience! Alison, you continue to inspire. I pray that Ok Jo can fulfill her dream of continuing her teaching career in her new home :)

October 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne O'Connell

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>