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“I was born in South Korea, but even though I am a citizen of the country I haven’t lived there or grown up there. I did that in the Philippines, actually. So my background is really a hodgepodge of “living away from home”. At Yale, I’m currently a second-year grad student at the Divinity School, so the name of my degree is actually “Master of Divinity”, which is pretty funny. Since I need to read primary texts, I’ve been studying ancient Greek and Hebrew—in addition to speaking English, Korean, and Tagalog.
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I would only go back during summers, feeling more estranged than ever. My Korean is not fluent, and people gave me weird looks when they realised that. It was like they didn’t question my racial identity, but they did doubt my cultural identity and linguistic ability. I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. Korea felt like a vacation, not like home.
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Now, at the Yale Divinity School, my research interests lie in understanding the intersection of disability studies and the ancient world: understanding how human bodies were constructed in classical Greece and Rome. In the Bible, I’ve found some fascinating passages about cases of both physical and psychological disability. It’s fundamentally changed the way I view my friendships, especially with my friend John, whom I met at school in the Philippines, and who is deaf. If anything, I’ve truly grasped how the value of a human is not limited—and should never be limited—to whatever disability they might have, but instead about the worth of who they are as a person. To many people who go through disabilities, their circumstances become their identity, and we need to recognise that.
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