Friday, August 26, 2011
Diversity and The Conspicuous Family
My employer, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA for short) is so awesome, in so many ways. One such way is their commitment to diversity. ASHA has an entire Diversity Team, and for the month of September 2011, they are doing a Diversity Museum, where people can display items from their various cultures/backgrounds. I plan on bringing in the hanbok (formal Korean outfit worn at special occasions) that Matthew wore for his 1st birthday, as well as various other Korean cultural items (and adoption-related items) that we have begun gathering, as the multiracial family that we are!
As part of the ASHA Diversity Museum, I participated in a video montage in which the Diversity Team interviewed me about the ways in which I and my family are diverse. I talked about adoption and the Korean culture--about being what is known as a "conspicuous family" (I'll revisit The Triangle Stare in a minute; I'm fairly certain I've touched on this in much earlier blog postings) and about the value that we place, in our family, on the country/language/culture of Matthew's birth--something that means the world to us.
I talked briefly about the adoption process, what we went through in bringing Matthew home, and the fact that we are a family, despite the fact that we may look different from one another. If we seem to be functioning as a family, we ARE one! People often give us The Triangle Stare: Stare at Mom, move gaze across to Dad, move gaze down to baby, then pause, and look up at the mom again, across at the dad again, and down at the baby again. (And then, depending on who you are and how sensitive to you are to people's privacy, you may or may not ask us if we are Matthew's parents.) I work to reduce instances of The Triangle Stare all the time, although, honestly, I believe that people mean no malintent...we are all products of society's slight unwillingness to truly embrace the diversity of family and just accept the fact that if a group of people seem to be functioning as a family, it's pretty darn tootin' that they ARE one.
Here are some notes from what I prepared for my little interview. I showed lots of photos of Matthew, obviously. I've posted some recent photos of Matthew at the end of this blog.
Our “Conspicuous Family”
Kathleen Kelly Halverson: 50% Irish, 25% German, 25% Slovak
Jeffrey Brian Halverson: 25% Irish, some Armenian, some Russian
Matthew Seong-jin Halverson: 100% South Korean
Matthew’s Birth City: Busan (SE Korea)
Matthew’s “Foster City”: Seoul (NW Korea; capital city of South Korea)
Dialect of Busan: Gyeongsang
Languages spoken by us: English, basic survival Korean (we all hope to take classes together someday!)
Korean Alphabet: Hangul (derived from Chinese)
How does Hangul differ from Chinese?
[excerpted from http://www.korean-language.org/]
Originally written using “Hanja” (Chinese characters), Korean is now mainly spelled in “Hangul,” which consists of 24 letters—14 consonants and 10 vowels—that are written in blocks of 2 to 5 characters. Unlike the Chinese writing system (including Japanese "Kanji"), "Hangul" is not an ideographic system. The shapes of the individual "Hangul" letters were designed to model the physical morphology of the tongue, palate, and teeth. Up to five letters join to form a syllabic unit.
Korean is spoken by more than 72 million people living on the Korean peninsula. Although it differs slightly in spelling, alphabet, and vocabulary between the two regions, Korean is the official language of both South Korea and North Korea. Outside of the Korean peninsula, there are about two million people in China who speak Korean as their first language, another two million in the United States, 700,000 in Japan, and 500,000 in the Russian regions of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
The Korean language has five major dialects in South Korea and one in North Korea. Despite the geographical and socio-political dialect differences, Korean is relatively homogeneous, being mutually understandable among speakers from different areas.
English/Korean (some basics)
(formal; means peacefulness, well-being; literally translated, “Are things peaceful for you?”)
(informal, I believe; my Korean friends use this to say “hello” rather than the above formal phrase)
(said to someone who is staying)
(said to someone who is leaving)
Nice to Meet You
BAN-GAP-SUP-NEE-DA (phonetic version)