David Cook (2003)

David Cook
August 15th, 2003 – SJC Session 2

Hi, I’m David Yong Ha Cook, and this is my fourth summer at Sae Jong Camp. In a couple weeks, I’ll be a freshman at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Michigan.

When I was asked to write this, I honestly had no clue what I would say. I’m not a camp legend, and hopefully, this won’t be my last time here. As I sit in my bunk staring out my window at crystal clear Higgins Lake, ideas flow into my head. Ideas about what to pack for SJC 2004, ideas about what to write and ideas that have nothing to do with this. I think I’m ready to begin now.

Some people my ask, “Why would you go to a camp with only Koreans?” I think the answer is fairly simple. To Learn. Not learn book knowledge, but to learn about the language and culture of my homeland, and to learn about myself as a person. Also, to learn about other people, and what they think about being Korean. Just as important as learning however, there’s another half of my answer. I come for the people. I come to see old friends, and to make new ones. A whole week with my friends at a beautiful camp. There isn’t much better than that in my opinion. Tomorrow, when we leave, there’ll be tears and goodbyes, and one last rendition of “Lean on me.” And then, we’ll ride home and hopefully see each other before next year. Remember that the friends we make here are forever our friends. The people that we meet here are crucial. I guess what I’m trying to say is every time you come here, meet new people. Trust me, you’ll never forget them.

Watching the tennis tournament, I notice that the ball is there and gone in the blink of an eye. Time is the same way when I’m here. It seems like we were just boarding the bus yesterday. And here we are at the closing campfire. For those of you who are depressed by this, just remember that the other fifty-one weeks in the year will go by just as fast as this one did.

What do I love about camp the most? The fact that you can be yourself here and no one will laugh at you for it. In society today, you can’t act naturally without being shunned. Here, just be yourself and you’ll do great. Here, you can sing, dance, and do stupid stuff because everyone here is in the same boat. We’ve all been mocked by the Caucasian society for being Korean at least once. No one understands us anyways, so we can look stupid and be cool with it.

Every week here is unique. Never will you do the same things in morning classes, never will you do the same skit, never will you dance with the exact same people, and never will people say the same stupid, funny things. Between winning four golden Shu-Shus and doing a skit named after a Monty Python movie (both completely new experiences in their own right), my cabin shared some humorous moments, I’m sure yours did too. Don’t try to remember everything because the things that are truly important you will always remember.

At another camp, the director proposed this question, “If you weren’t at this camp, what would you be doing?” Now, I ask you that same question. For those of you who said you’d be hanging out with friends, may I remind you that you would not know a lot of your friends if not for this place. And we wouldn’t know a lot about ourselves.

That’s about it. I only have one more thing to say: “Dae Han Min Gook”, “The People’s Republic of Korea”. Don’t forget your heritage.