In seventh grade, I befriended a group of boys who introduced me to Japanese RPGs and rekindled my love for animes. Because of them, I learned how awesome Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Suikoden are. Because of them, I changed my mind about animes and realised that they weren’t for little kids. I’m thankful for them because they opened up my mind to many things. In fact, I’m thankful for the environment I grew up in — an extremely diverse environment.
I grew up in a US military community, an actual military base, in the middle of Seoul. All my schooling occurred there, and my career began there, too. However, I lived outside of the base, in one of the many Korean neighbourhoods surrounding the base. Yet I am truly blessed with my circumstances because of all the diversity I encounter on a daily basis. The US military has people from all cultures, and I meet so many people who are of Asian, European, African, and American descents. Outside of the base, I encounter Koreans, Britons, Australians, New Zealanders, and so many nationalities because I live in the foreigner’s district of Seoul.
I am grateful for meeting such a diverse range of people. One of my former co-workers is from Guam, and she has introduced me to many things about Guamanian culture, including their amazing food. One of my closest friends is a Zainichi Korean, and she has shared her experiences growing up in Japan. Another friend is Polish, and I’ve learned some interesting facts about his culture. These are just a few examples of the diversity I experience on a daily basis, and I’m really grateful for them.
But going back to my love for animes, mangas, and video games — my circumstances have always allowed me to meet many people with similar interests. I’ve met parents, co-workers, and classmates who like what I like, and when we discover these common interests, I talk to them with delight. I’ve read about how some people feel alone because they don’t encounter people with those interests, and I’m struck by how fortunate I am to be in an extremely diverse place to meet people who are into my hobbies. Sure, the Internet has allowed people like me to find like-minded folks, but it’s always great to find them in real life, too!
Are you living in a diverse community? What’s your favourite thing to learn about another person’s culture? Do you meet a lot of like-minded people offline?