Have you ever felt foreign in your own country? An outsider among your own people? Well, I personally have -- but not in the way you might expect. No, I am not pushing for far-right propaganda that immigration is taking America away from the naturalized inhabitant of this country, rather, I am saying that I purposefully am putting myself in a position where I am outnumbered, a minority, and an outsider, which is part and parcel of my senior project. You see, ever since I traveled abroad for the first time in my life two years ago, I felt as if I had discovered my purpose in life. Indeed, it became clear as day: I’m meant to be a diplomat and work on the international stage to promote a better and more integrated world.
In order to capture this aspect about my future, I’m interning for the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Korea, here in Oregon! I’ve had the privilege to meet current diplomats from Korea, as well as inspiring people who work with Korea and the Korean community in Oregon. For instance, I’ve met with Korean War Veterans who have told me incredible stories from their service in Korea, such as the story of how one Veteran recalled rescuing a Korean boy whose right eye was left dangling out of it’s socket after he unintentionally triggered a land mine. Besides that, I had an amazing conversation with a current South Korean diplomat who was visiting the Oregon consulate, and we discussed his experience in America and my experience in Korea. He also helped me with my Korean skills, and told me an interesting story about how his family actually visited my hometown (Astoria), and showed me a picture of them all at the Sunset Beach in Warrenton. It was really neat to discover how small the world really is, as well as how much two completely different people have in common!
Truthfully, I’m learning a lot about how diplomacy works, as a result of my internship. I’ve discovered that diplomacy isn’t just old men in suits and ties sitting at a table discussing trade negotiations, rather, it’s community work to make the world a better place. In fact, most of my internship has been involved with the Korean community in Oregon, such as attending events that honor those who fought in the Korean war, or celebrating Korean American day by having University students from Korea come to Portland and play traditional Korean instruments. Indeed, most things in this internship have been about connecting the Korean community together, and strengthening their cultural vibrancy as a whole. It’s the Honorary Consul’s duty to make sure that all of the community is active, and keeping things in order and ensuring that all things continue to promote Korean culture and heritage here in Oregon. Clearly, my perception about what a consul does has been changed by actually interning for the consulate in person.
As you can see, senior projects are an opportunity for students to discover themselves and dive deeper into the career path they would like to go down. In my case, this has given me an opportunity to learn more about what my own future will look like, simply by job shadowing someone who has the career I want to participate in. Indeed, senior projects shouldn’t be scary for seniors-- quite the opposite! Seniors should learn to be excited to get a head-start in their future by having the opportunity to complete a senior project that will give them an exceptional new look into their desired job field and career. Perhaps someones senior project might convince them that they aren’t really interested in the career they thought they wanted to pursue, which is also a good thing as it gives students freedom to rethink their lives-- before it’s already too late. No matter what, I don’t see any issue with senior projects and I believe they’re are generally good things for students to do. Again, in my case, it’s helped me put aside stereotypes, learn more about diplomacy, and really inspire me to dive deeper into international relations.