Good Morning McFriends!

Chicago received its first dusting of snow overnight and McCormick gets its first post by its new blogger – ME!

For my first blog I’ve decided to introduce you to a friendly face seen around campus – Yeon-Ik Park. I first met Yeon-Ik in August, as we were both taking the summer Greek intensive. Our class only had 8 students in it, and we formed a bond really quickly (that tends to happen in a class you go to twice a day, every day, for three weeks! – Prospective students, take note – the Summer Intensive is the way to go when it comes to languages if you can make it).  He’s finishing up his degree this semester, but will be in Chicago for a little while longer. He’ll be sorely missed by our community but we wish him the best of luck in his future.

Yeon Ik and his family spending a vacation in Atlanta at the World of Coca-Cola

Wes: Tell us your name and where you’re from:

Yeon-Ik: I am Yeon-Ik Park. Yeon-Ik (連翼) comes from Chinese – Yeon means ‘connect or inherit’ and Ik means ‘wing or flutter’. Namely, it means to work connecting with someone through helping and preservation. I came from South Korea.

W: Tell us a little about yourself – What did you do before coming to McCormick? What was your dream job growing up?

Y: I was born on Je-ju island, the grandest and most beautiful island in Korea. It is like Korea’s Hawaii. I am the youngest son among three children of my parents. I was raised with strong influences of Christian heritage inherited from my grand-parents. I had learned the model of God’s stewardship from my father who has been a lay person and served the church as a faithful steward. I applied to a seminary and had made up my mind to become a minister in order to practice the life.

After I graduated from the graduate school of theology at Hanshin University, I had worked on the editorial staff at the Institute of Theological Studies of the Presbyterian Church of Republic of Korea (my denomination). I have also worked as an assistant pastor in a Korean Church, Yedarm Presbyterian Church, before coming here.

W: Yeon-Ik, you’ve told me that you have also been a Chinese food delivery driver (in Korea food is delivered via motorcycles!) and a body guard in the military, how were those experiences?

Y: I was in the army from 1999 to 2001 stationed at the Army’s headquarters in Daejeon, South Korea. I served as a body guard for generals, which was fun because when we had motorcades we would be able to drive really fast. After getting out of the army it was difficult for me to break the habit of following people really closely in my car. After the army I needed extra money in order to pay tuition for seminary, so for three months I delivered food in Daejeon. In my culture, life moves really fast (빨리빨리) and people expect their food really quickly, so I had to get the food to a person’s home in less than 5 minutes!

W: Tell us about your family – Who are they and how do they like living in Chicago?

Y: I have four family members. They are – a cute and pretty daughter named Sol-Saem, who is 4 years old and going to pre-school at Ray school; a vigorous 23 month old son named In-Bum, and a lovely wife named Yoon-Jung, who worked as a social worker in a facility for people with disabilities. They like living in Chicago except a little bit about the cold weather.

W: What do you miss most about Korea? What do you like most about living in Chicago?

Y: I miss my family, the church and congregations where I worked and I miss Korea’s scenery of seas and mountains.

What I like about living in Chicago and the US is the fresh air and wider view, which is better than Korea. Korea is really densely populated and the buildings are really close together, so I’m happy to be in a place that is more wide open. Chicago is kind of like the town that I grew up in on Jeju Island, so I like that. I also like experiencing diverse cultures and people.

W: What do you do for fun?

Y: Sometimes my family and I watch Korean television programs to quench our stress and to get away from English. At times, I have fun extra times baking breads, like Korean pancakes with sugar and peanuts or steamed bread with adzuki beans or diverse muffins or pizza, and so on. After I baked the breads, I shared with my neighborhood.

W: I have been a happy recipient of the Korean pancakes and I can attest to the fact that they are absolutely delicious!

Why did you come to McCormick?

Y: After conversations with McCormick alumni, I came to consider as McCormick the school which could offer me both pastoral and theological disciplines for further ministry. I thought that it would be a great honour for me to be a part of this esteemed school as a student. I knew of the excellent educational system for the foreign students, and that I might encounter other students gathered from all around the continent and even the world in the Cross-Cultural campus that is McCormick. I came here, because I expected that I would expand both the experimental and epistemological horizon of my study.

W: What has your experience been like at McCormick, both as an international student and a cultural minority?

Y: I have experienced multiculturalism in diverse worship services, being able to interact with people of cultures, and I have been able to introduce the Korean culture to other people. Although I thought my English ability was insufficient, I was still interested in sharing my culture with McCormick community. Moreover, I felt that the community has made an effort to understand my culture.

W: What has been your favorite class at McCormick? Why?

Y: I have been taking the Greek class from last summer to now. It has been one of my favorite classes because it is taken by only a few students (8 people), and so I am easily able to share materials of this class. To study a 3rd language, which is classical, is not easy for me as I’m still trying on my 2nd language, nevertheless, I have an interest in studying and working hard in order to acquire not only Greek but also the English language.

W: What’s your favorite food?

Y: My favorite food is anything make with flour. Especially, I like breads. Of course, I also like Korean foods. So, I, sometimes, would make some breads and cookies. I learned many methods of baking breads and cookies through books and websites. Probably, unless I take a job in ministry, I will become a baker. (hahahaha)

W: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

Y: I think that Ministers/Pastors should go anywhere God calls. So, if some church or congregation calls me, I will go anywhere. So then, I haven’t decided on a place to go. However, I am convinced that God will call me as soon as I finish my courses.

I’ll be bringing you the blog once a week starting in the spring, so until then, Have a Happy Christmas and a  Wonderful New Year!

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