Major: education / Field of profession: IT.
My profile put in a line. Simple, huh? Right, my life was indeed getting simple. You know, as you continue to make fair progresses with your career, and all your excitement about work begins to grow stale, this thing called mannerism starts to creep in… That notion that everyday’s the same, I’m just fending for each day, what more can you expect…etc., etc.
But then this voice from somewhere inside my head yells at me; you’re still young, dxxn it! Your blood yearns for a good hot boil time to time. I mean, it’s good to be settled in and all, but this can’t possibly be the end! Still water decomposes, and unused organs degenerate…I smell you rotting, rotting… life should still have some other surprise in store, (somewhere over the rainbow?)! It was about time I went seeking for new adventure – so what came up? Nothing that fancy, after all … just studying some more, but this time in the US., away from familiar surroundings.
But!!!!!!! It turned out that I was in fact ‘too old for that joint,’ no longer a perky twenty-year old whose blood indeed simmers and head scintillates with wit! Those ENGLISH words splattered all over the pages made me sick, totally frustrated: I’ve learned English at school for over 10 years, ever since junior high – but look at me now, thwarted by some stupid article in a GRE text book! What’s wrong here? Where’ve all the hours I’d invested in this language gone? Looking around, I realized that it wasn’t my problem alone. Korea spending tons of money and time in English education, but people can’t even properly order a hamburger when it comes to practice. Collective problems have systematical causes -the Korean English education system seems to be inefficient, and since I’m one of its victims, I know what’s wrong with it, what parts need improvement… can’t I do something about it? Use what I’ve learned to make some real difference?
Couldn’t stop thinking about it, even after actually being admitted and having done with the toil. Guess the issue persisted in my mind, as I was thrown right into the heart of trans-cultural/linguistic challenges, studying in a foreign environment. Didn’t some wise guy say, an urgent need is the best motivation?
Everything was new, new new… even my very self. My speech habits, behavioral patterns, outgoing personality and self-prided leadership – all gone. I was no longer the ‘me’ I knew myself to be, changed in external perception as well as internal self-conception. I found myself stuttering, getting timid because of my inability to fully express myself, and in turn being further withdrawn. That, was the new “me.”
What this experience taught me was that adjusting to my new school and its surroundings wasn’t simply an issue of language – that it involves culture, and in a wider span, life within it. No being can be defined outside the context of the given environment… Assimilation was a complex process of understanding not only language, but also the social texture that harbors it, the people who use it. I was struck by the notion that comprehension of a certain language runs parallel to an understanding of its mother culture.
That’s exactly the point where this grand discourse over ‘diversity’ hit the wall – born and raised in Korea, known for its ethnic and cultural unity, I first marveled at the cultural/racial/linguistic kaleidoscope of America. Salad bowl, melting pot… call it what you may, this fusion seemed to have a future. Disparity accepted and respected as ‘difference,’ not ‘flaw.’ Here, there was a possibility of harmony in our post-babellian world of chaos.
However… as years went by, I couldn’t get rid of this feeling that there’s a certain invisible wall between myself and other friends. Yes, there was ‘difference’ between us, which we respected.. but then, that was it. No attempts to cross over that very boundary. Right, we’re not the same, I take that – so let it stay right there, there’s never going to be complete mutual understanding, that’s a given condition! Possibility turned out to be a restriction.
All these talks about globalization, diversity, a one big happy community… but are we truly one? Is there genuine mutual understanding? Respect implies sustainable difference, but at the same time, it means there’s still a clear line drawn between ‘self’ and the ‘other.’ There has to be an overarching theme, each piece corresponding to its neighboring substance for random scraps to become a harmonious collage. Cultural understanding as the premise for a mellifluous inter-linguistic tune. No wonder Koreans waste away taking inefficient English lessons, of course I don’t feel at home among non-Korean friends. There has to be some way to share our backgrounds in a more intimate manner, pierce through one another’s daily lives that make us what we are.
So came the idea of ViKi. A totally new platform, a hybrid of community mongering and linguistic exchange. Let people share their interests, thoughts – in the process of which, inter-linguistic communication naturally taking place, consequently rendering mere diversity into a true harmony. No no, this isn’t mere cliché, one more abstract jibber jabber on world peace. We’ve got all the necessary hardware, mankind having been so smart as to materialize Gibson’s vision of the World Wide Web – now we just have to give flesh and blood to this phantom.
This is what ViKi will do, what ViKi is for.