Leanne Dunlavey (2004)

Leanne Dunlavey
August 13th, 2004 – SJC Session 1

To me, SJC has been more than just a campground where a person can swim and eat terrible camp food, but an escape from the daily pressures of life, and a seclusion where the rest of the world disappears. Time seems to stand still, and for one week there is no one else in the world besides 80 Korean Americans. There are only loud obnoxious camp songs to sing, and there are only the sounds of laughter and gentle waves crashing together. Over the last five years, Sae Jong Camp has nonetheless seized to become my second home.

One quality that I have gained from SJC is Korean pride and a stronger Korean identity. It hasn’t been only the morning classes that have shaped my Korean identity but the more simple routines of camp like playing mook-jee-bah, singing sah-rang-hae, and even repeating the only Korean phrase you know over and over. Although these events seem like they would have a minimal effect, they are exactly the things I never have the chance to do at home. SJC’s sense of unity, and goal to have a fun-filled Korean week always makes me proud of my background and who I am.

Furthermore, I have learned many life lessons here – everything from knowing to bring lots of warm clothing, to what being a friend truly means. Sae Jong Camp has taught me that you can never predict what life will throw your way, but you can always get through it, and others are willing to help. The compassion of the SJC staff and campers always amazes me, and makes me strive to be a better person.

Lastly but definitely not least, I cherish mostly the friendships that I have made. To me, friendships here are unique. Only here are you able to have discussions about eyelid creases, and dance to K-pop music. Even though every camper here is unique on the inside, we still have an undeniable connection that I am proud to share with all of you.

To Kiva Left and all my other friends here, I love each relationship that I have with every one of you, and you mean more to me than words can express. Every one of your unique qualities amazes, and It has been an honor growing up with you.

Right now, I am about finished with this, and this whole moment seems surreal. Suddenly I realize that putting what I have gotten out of camp into words is harder than I had expected. Sae Jong Camp has become my home and family. It is a spirit that always gives me pride and hope.