Lent 2017: The Odd One Out

Lent: Day 33 of 40
Name: Danny Lee
Lenten Commitment: Learn foreign languages.

For most people, they tend to be shaped by their surroundings or where they live. For me, growing up and living in the Bronx, I now realize that this could not be truer.

What do I mean by this? Well, I go to a high school which is predominantly Black and Hispanic. There are only five Asian kids in the whole school!

Because of this, I faced a lot of racism from my classmates for being Asian. They even called me names, such as “yellow”, “ling ling”, “Japanese kamikaze pilot”, etc. I was so hurt by it that I actually thought about transferring schools.

I was actually giving it some serious thought, but something was making me hesitate with actually going through with it. Looking back on it now, I see that it was God who was making me reconsider my decision and opened my eyes to just how closed-minded the kids at my school were to other cultures.

From that day on, I started to pray and ask God to send a transfer student who was the same as me and who I can relate to. Finally, about a month into my senior year, God actually answered my prayers in a way that I never expected. Even though He did not send a transfer student, He did provide me with a group of my friends within my own school to me who were interested in Korean culture. Because of this, I was able to become closer with them.

Not only that, but I realize now that God also gave me an interest in learning about other Asian cultures.

So, for Lent, I have decided to learn Japanese and Chinese and help my group of friends open their eyes by teaching them Korean culture.

One factor that influenced my Lent commitment was actually our youth group. Over these past few weeks, as I was studying my Japanese and Chinese languages I was also thinking about our YG. I was thinking about how much our YG has grown and how many new people God has sent us – people such as Fuad and Cesar.

The two Japanese kids from Tokyo and the one Chinese kid that he has sent to our Youth Group also came to mind. I realized just how diverse our YG was starting to become. I believe that someone had to be ready in the case that God sends more non-Koreans to our YG to communicate with them and help them feel welcome and at home.

With that being said, I feel like doing something like learning foreign languages for Lent is fitting for me. I am having so much fun learning them! I have already started to compile a list of other languages that I plan on learning in the future like Thai, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

Through my Lent commitment and my experiences these past 4 years leading up to now when I am about to graduate, I realized that even though I had a lot of ups and downs, God was with me through every single one of those moments, and I also learned that our God is a God who can turn our negative experiences into positive learning experiences.

I have also learned a very important personal lesson: that is to never be ashamed of your culture and that it is okay to be unique. I am very grateful that through this trial that God has put me through these past 4 years, He blessed me with sending me friends with whom I share a common interest with.

I would like it to be the same for our DSYG. I would like our community to be a community where people of all different cultural backgrounds can be welcome, and for all of us to keep an open mind and try to interact with different people – not just in our cliques. I have experienced firsthand what it is like to be the unique and different one in a group of common people and I know that it can feel very awkward at times, but in the end, it is our job as Christians to reach out to those people and talk to them and make them feel at home, especially in a new environment like church.

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