The perks of being bilingual

After a succesful opening concert: Pianist Nicholas McCarthy and me
After a succesful opening concert: Pianist Nicholas McCarthy and me

“Sweet serendipity” – the unexpected encounter that is truly wonderful- describes one of the highlights of this past summer. In my previous post, I talked about my decision to spend the summer for my self and with the people I truly care about. Since I had much flexibility and freedom to do pretty much whatever I wanted, I started looking for an opportunity to give back to my home country (South Korea) because I realized I had spent too much time focusing on my self and engaging outside of my “home”.

One summer afternoon, I got a phone call from my friend desperately in the need of a volunteer translator at a Special Music Festival that was scheduled to happen in a week. The festival was for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and was held in collaboration with the LA special olympics. Without thinking much, I responded with and made arrangements to go to the festival. Although other translators got weeks of training, I was thrown right into the festival. As the day started, there were hundreds of children with ASD from all around the world that came together to share music. I was able to help the children and their guardians interact with the Korean staff and participants, and allow communication to flow smoothly between everyone in the festival.

My encounter and experiences during the festival helped me realize how effortlessly I’ve been translating back and forth from English to Korean and vice versa. I truly felt blessed that I could use my language skills to help very different people have meaningful interactions with each other. This unexpected opportunity taught me that I could use my language and intercultural skills not only t the benefit of my experience but also to enrich other people’s experiences as well.

I am driven to find more volunteer opportunities like this that will allow me to practice my skills and contribute back to the global community.