BARRED BY ILLITERACY

Bird cage embroidery inspired by traditional Chinese folk paintings.

It’s an interesting feeling to be immersed in another culture, yet feel totally removed. Not isolated or alone. Just separated by barriers beyond my control.

Language is a cage, while at the same time a key to unlock the door to freedom.

I’ve been here five months. I’ve made plenty of Korean friends. I understand basic Korean expressions. I know Korean formalities, procedures. I have a good grasp on everything Korea. Yet, I’m caged.

I can only see what’s happening around me. I can’t fully participate. I’m kept apart. Barred by illiteracy. It’s an overwhelming realization. Something so simple has enough power to hold me captive. Even more profound is knowing I’m the only one who can breakdown what blocks my integration. One word at a time.

I want to be part of the world around me. Not just in it. I want to understand. I want to relate. I want to go beyond this tiny cage I’m in. Where I’ll no longer just watch or be the watched. I want to fly.

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