So in this spirit of getting all this out on the table…this article from Eric Foley accompanies the post I made last month which you can find here. It was about the first unique Korean virtue of deep obligation to family, friends, church, and Korean people that EMs should be teaching to the next generation. Again, this article was originally published in the "Diaspora Leadership", a publication that is for the most part in Korean circles amongst 1st-gen Korean pastors. In this addendum to that article, Pastor Eric discusses how to implement the transmission of this trait of Korean Christianity to the next generation. With no further ado then…
How to Help Your EM Cultivate Unique Korean Virtue #1: Deep obligation to family, friends, the church, and Korean people. The purpose of this monthly column is to identify and promote the value of the unique elements of Korean Christianity, and to ensure their robust transmission to the next generation of Korean American Christians.
The firm conviction of my heart is that unless EM Ministry changes radically, the result will be that traditional Korean culture, traditional Korean Christianity, and traditional Korean virtues will cease to exist within two generations.The way this column works is that one month I present a unique virtue from Korean culture that EM’s aren’t teaching our 2.0 kids but should be. The next month I present a list of practical ways and creative ideas that you can share with your EM pastor to help him teach that virtue to the 2.0 kids in your own church.
Here is the list of Ten Unique Korean Virtues that our 2.0 kids will never learn from American culture and can only learn well if EM pastors teach them:
- Deep obligation to family, friends, the church, and Korean people
- Commitment to being a diaspora people
- Respect for elders
- Passionate, whole-being prayer
- Preparing and eating meals together
- The ability to suffer well
- Respect for the office of the pastor
- Deep, holy reverence for God revealed in both worship and life
- Sense of Korean history and connection to it; a conviction that Koreans are a people of destiny
Last month I wrote about Virtue #1: Deep obligation to family, friends, the church, and Korean people. For information about the nature or definition of that virtue (and a description of exactly how it’s missing from American culture), please see last month’s issue of Diaspora Leadership.
This month’s column, then, is a set of practical ideas you can use in your church to make sure that your 2.0 kids grow in this virtue.
There are two main things to remember when trying to teach Korean culture to 2.0’s. First, the teacher must teach Korean culture from an American perspective. Second, the teacher must make it fun to learn.
The first idea sounds very counter-intuitive. After all, shouldn’t Korean culture be taught by Koreans from a Korean perspective?
My answer is emphatically, NO. When Korean culture is taught from a Korean perspective, 2.0’s—who are more American than Korean—have no way to connect it to their daily lives. 2.0’s think like Americans. They listen to American music. They study American history. They watch American TV shows. When Korean churches teach Korean culture from a Korean perspective, 2.0’s will almost always respond negatively. They will think things like, “Why should I care? What’s cool about this? Why do I have to learn this anyway? This is boring. They’re so weird.”
In order for 2.0’s to be excited about Korean culture, we cannot build a bridge from us to them. Instead, we have to build a bridge from them back to us. That means we have to think like Americans and teach them Korean culture from an American perspective. We have to ask questions like, “Why is this particular aspect of Korean culture cool or interesting or useful from an American perspective? What American analogies can I use to communicate this concept to make it come alive? What examples can I use from American music or TV shows or websites to explain this Korean concept?”
Secondly, 2.0’s are like any other kid of kids: They only want to do something if it’s fun. No 2.0 will ever care about Korean culture if it’s taught to them like the subjects they learn in school the rest of the week. Korean culture has to be taught to them with humor, games, and American style teaching techniques. In Korean culture, the student never talks in class. He only listens. But in American culture, the students are encouraged to talk more than the teacher! If we want 2.0’s to learn about Korean culture, we will have to teach them with American style teaching techniques.
With this perspective in mind, here are some specific games and activities you can use to teach your 2.0’s to develop deep obligation to family, friends, the church, and Korean people:
Hold an intergenerational kimchi making party
- Have the youth group read books together by Korean American authors like Linda Sue Park, Susan Choi, Helie Lee, Patti Kim, Chang-Rae Lee, or even Leonard Chang detective novels. Do these as a summer reading program, or encourage youth to read these books for class assignments in their schools. Have these on hand at church for easy access.
- Keep a list of famous Korean and Korean-American historical figures (scientists, patriots, presidents, sports figures) that Korean youth can use for their reports in school. Sometimes the school teacher will need to be contacted to permit the Korean youth to study a Korean historical figure, since Korean and Korean American historical figures are often ignored in American and world history books. Stock Korean and Korean American history books in church; all the recent ones can be purchased even from Amazon.com for a few hundred dollars.
- Do a teaching session called, “What are the top 10 Korean things that your parents do that drive you crazy?”, and then work to help the Korean young people discover why 1.0’s act the way they do. You could do this as an interview event where teams of youth interview 1.0’s to ask them why they do these specific things; then the youth can report back to the class what they learned.
- Do a movie night for 1.0’s and 2.0’s using movies with subtitles like Taegukgi. After the movie, divide the youth up into small groups and give each group a facilitator and one 1.0 adult who had interesting experiences during the Korean War. Have the 1.0 adult tell his or her story, and then have the youth ask questions.