March 1, 2010 — Vol. 26 No. 9
“Only connect,” wrote author E.M. Forster in 1910. Now, 100 years later, that is still vital advice for these times.
This year’s Idaho State University College of Education Bellon Visiting Author Yangsook Choi will be coming to Pocatello and Chubbuck March 15-17 to make connections with school children, educators and community members.
In an interview, Choi explained what she means by connections: “I picture an imaginary bridge, made of books – books’ pages connected like an accordion. The bridge links many cultures, in a circuit. It never falls or sinks, but stays buoyant against any differences of conflicts.”
In addition to visiting several area elementary schools, Choi will be give three public presentations:
Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea, where she lived until she moved to the United States in 1991 to attend art school. By the time she graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York, she already had a contract to illustrate her first book, the retelling of a Korean folktale, “The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy.” Since then she has both illustrated and written many acclaimed picture books.
One of the missions of the Bellon Visiting Author series is to bring an understanding of diversity to Southeast Idaho.
“I always love diversity and variety in things. If you mix red and blue it becomes purple,” Choi said. “Having grown up Korea and having spent 12 years in the United States, I feel I am purple.”
Choi brings a fresh new flavor to our understanding of other cultures. When asked about her life in Korea she said, “My childhood in Korea wasn’t much different from everyone else’s: like most kids, I ate aromatic kimchi everyday, avoided doing homework, and felt oppressed by the constant demands of adults. I played outside if I could, until my shadow disappeared at dusk. My tired grandmother would find me in odd places like our damp basement or under a vendor’s cart squatting on my knees in search of something. Once I ran away from home, but my aunt found me and returned me home two days later. Other than that, I grew up without much adventure or unusual experiences. Eighty percent of my childhood in Korea was spent sitting at a desk and studying, at home or school.”
The neighborhood where Ms. Choi grew up, she said, “has many hidden alleys that branch off from the main street. In those narrow, winding alleys, there are countless antique stores that sell anything from old archeology and history books, paintings, calligraphy and porcelain to hand-pressed papers.” Young Choi didn’t have much interest in those things when she was growing up, but, “living away from home for so many years helped me to understand the value of my rich heritage and strong culture. It seemed as though, by having left home, I had found my way home.”