An 18-year-old Korean student who was raised in New York won an essay contest for his entry on being the hyphen in Korean-American, the Korea Daily reported. The article was translated from Korean.
Patrick Yang, 18, a recent graduate of Hunter College High School who just started at Amherst College in Massachusetts, is the winner of “East Meets West,” an English essay contest sponsored by the Donghwa Cultural Foundation and Korea Daily in June. The essay that caused a good impression with the judges dealt with his experiences and life as an immigrant.
Yang wrote that he is the hyphen in the word Korean-American, because he didn’t feel that he belonged to either Korea or America when he was a child. “Hyphen is the best description of myself, because I’m both Korean and American. It symbolizes me as an arbitrator between two countries,” he said.
This was the first time Yang participated in an essay contest. “I lived between two countries, felt that I was different from other people. It was really hard. I wrote my feelings and thoughts very frankly and it gave me good results,” he said with a smile.
Yang came to the U.S. with his parents when he was four and has not been back to Korea since. But he speaks Korean fluently and is very interested in Korean culture.
“I thought, I had to know the language and culture because I’m Korean,” he said. He also volunteered as a translator at the Korean Cultural Service New York. Recently, he learned that many American public schools offer Korean language as part of their regular curriculum. “I was surprised by the fact that other ethnic groups want to learn Korean. I’m so proud to be Korean.”
Yang’s dream is to help connect the U.S. and Korea. “Being a Korean that lives in the U.S., I want to build links between both countries, that would be a positive development.”