Ordinary mom Jasmine Ventures Out into Society

Here’s an article from KBS World… featuring our own Jasmine 🙂

You might want to visit the original article to see pictures of Jas (who shares her birthday with the Megastar) and her family — and see how handsome her son is 😉 (Picture below stolen from her Friendster page)

[singlepic=926,250,250,left]On Friday afternoon, a group of women are participating in an intense discussion at ‘Women’s Plaza’ in Daebang-dong, southwestern Seoul. They are so engaged in conversation, they hardly realize they’re skipping meals.
It would be nice to help out local citizens, as well as multicultural families. I’d say it’s one of the best ways to promote communication or unity. Unity might be a better word.
The debaters, with different colors of hair and skin, are discussing a rather serious topic: “social unity.” Who are these women from diverse ethnic backgrounds?
At first, we created this meeting with a simple purpose—to get together once a month and have a good time. And then we agreed to do something to benefit our neighbors. We named the gathering “Droplets” and decided to extend a helping hand to foreign women residing in Korea, just like us, who have a hard time assimilating to Korean society.
There are about twenty women, and most of them know very little Korean. They say they decided to join this group to help themselves and other people as well.
Even if moms don’t say anything, children know everything. I think it’s good to organize a study group for moms.
This is Jasmine, a 33-year-old Philippine woman who came to Korea 14 years ago. Now she suggests that foreign wives married to Korean men get together to study the Korean language and culture. Here’s the story of this self-confident woman.
How many people are going? Four? OK. Thank you all. You did a great job today. See you!
The three-hour-long meeting has finally ended. We assume the women are now going home to prepare supper. But it looks like some of the group, led by Jasmine, are going somewhere else.
We opened a one-day teashop as a charity event to help a Philippine woman named Yolanda. Her husband has been in the hospital since he was stricken by cerebral hemorrhage last November. He’s received six rounds of surgery, and he’s still in the intensive care unit. We’re going to deliver the proceeds and donations we collected from the charity event to Yolanda, the mother of two children.
Jasmine says it’s nice to engage in charity work, but she’s so busy that she sometimes feels she’s going crazy.
I had lived as a homemaker for 12 years. The moment I stepped into society, I found I had so many things to do. I’m living a very busy life, and I often feel like I’m not myself. I like people who are somewhat out of their mind from a busy life, just like me.
But she doesn’t look like just a run of the mill housewife who stayed at home for 12 years. We begin to wonder about her past. So, what brought her to Korea?
My parents wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. So I studied biology in college before going to medical school. But while in college, I happened to meet a man—my would-be husband, to be exact.
The promising Filipina medical student couldn’t help but accept the enthusiastic proposal of a Korean man. She decided to take her chances.
Korean people were amazed to see me uttering a few Korean words, even though they were simple ones. They were surprised to see a foreigner learning and speaking Korean in their country. It was all the more impressive for them, because they didn’t think they could speak a single foreign word when traveling abroad. Many Koreans treated me warmly. For example, restaurant owners would offer me side dishes I didn’t even order. My first impression of Korea was very good. And I thought I would never regret coming here; I might even change my nationality.
But her husband had to work overtime frequently and she had no close friends. Jasmine hung around with a few neighbors once in a while, but not very often. More than ten years passed that way. Naturally, she began to see the outside world through television.
I began to notice an increasing number of TV programs about multicultural families. I found there are many foreign wives, like me, here in Korea. To my disappointment, those programs focused more on the difficulties and troubles foreign women face. Actually, my life in Korea hasn’t been that difficult. My family is just like other ordinary families in Korea. But I realized many wives from abroad had a hard time adjusting to Korean society.
And she began to worry about her two children when they entered an elementary school. She refrained from going outside with her children.
In a TV program, children of foreign wives are ashamed of their mothers because they are poor at Korean. Some children are even ostracized by their peers just because their mothers are foreigners. The program frightened me. My children aren’t any different from Korean kids by appearance. But I was afraid that people might look at my kids differently if they were with me. So I tried not to visit their school.
You must not lose your hope. That’s the most important thing. Just believe everything will be fine, and things will magically turn out well. Cheer up, Yolanda. We’re here to support you.
There was a time when Jasmine even hesitated to step out of the house. But she is now spearheading support activities for foreign wives from other countries. How could she make such a remarkable development?
Most TV shows about multicultural families used to highlight only the negative side, so I refused to appear in similar programs. One day, a program director of “Love in Asia” persuaded me to join the program, saying that it would show the bright side of my life just the way it is. I accepted his suggestion, and he made good on his words. The program described my family very positively. After the experience, my view of broadcasting changed gradually.
While appearing in TV shows one after another, Jasmine became increasingly enthusiastic about social participation. And many people threw their weight behind her. Kim Hye-ryeon, representative of ‘With World Women,’ a foreign women’s human rights group, is one of the supporters.
Jasmine correctly recognizes problems she and other foreign women face while living here in Korea. She’s deeply interested in how to participate in society and harmonize her views with the new situation. And she knows exactly what she’s supposed to do.
The next afternoon, Jasmine appears in Mapo, western Seoul. She’s excited at the thought of enjoying a much-awaited date with her husband. But she says she must drop by one place first.
To become a member of the local council, you should know how to debate particular issues. Why don’t you learn theories first and then declare your candidacy in November?
Jasmine is meeting with Kim Eun-ju, head of the Korea Women’s Politics Institute. But what do the words, “debate” and “declare candidacy,” have to do with Jasmine?
The purpose of this project is to find foreign women interested in politics and make them members of local councils. It was designed to help the women better understand Korean politics and ponder on the potential influence of their political activities on their lives.
Last winter, Jasmine happened to participate in the project. We ask her if she has ever been interested in politics.
On voting days, my father used to tell us to select a particular candidate, and I simply voted for him or her. I was totally indifferent to the candidates’ history or campaign pledges, and I just selected the people favored by my father. To me, politics were a completely unknown world, far away from my life.
In the past, Jasmine didn’t give a hoot about politics, but after moving to Korea, she decided it might be a way for her to get more involved as a foreign spouse. She found pursuing politics was easier than she had expected.
Parents will do anything for their children. I swear I can do anything for my kids as a mom. I’m eager to participate in political activities if my efforts contribute to improving this society where my kids will live, even if only by 0.01 percent.
Are you going to see a play? Where? What about Seung-yeon? The Natural History Museum? Whose birthday is it today? Oh, the kid you were wrestling with the other day?
Jasmine is having dinner with her husband and two children, Seung-geun and Seung-yeon. Looking at the kids, she feels proud of her work once again.
Only when the future of these children is bright, will the future of Korea be bright, too. Currently, education for families of international marriages is mostly focused on foreign mothers, like the Korean language education and job training. Of course, it’s necessary to educate foreign wives, but I think children of intercultural families also need to get some education so they can acclimate to their school environment in a more proper way.

Jasmine says, “People can tell the good from the bad only when they are provided with enough information. If they are ignorant, they may learn bad things first.” She seems to have already figured out one of the most important lessons in life. But there’s one thing even Jasmine finds very challenging.
I think the most difficult thing is to become a good parent. People may think one can just give children food and clothes, and educate them to be a good mother. But it’s easier said than done. Actually, it’s really hard to feed them well, clothe them well and educate them well. To raise children in a good way is one of the most challenging tasks.
I told you to practice the bamboo flute. But look at you! Are you sleeping? You’ve read a lot of comic books, haven’t you?

Jasmine feels happy to be with her lovely children and her husband, who has always believed in her. She says she doesn’t know about politics, and all she wants is to become a good mother. This ordinary mom has just ventured out into society with the sole purpose of shaping a bright future for her children.



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