Ok, lets back track, 31 July 10, Narita, Japan. We're six hours into an eight hour layover in Japan. Everyone is trying to find something to do to eat up time. I meet Rebecca in an internet cafe and we sit, chat, and work on our projects , even have a beer at our station. Later we meet up with the crew at our gate when a young Asian man asks Tanja a few questions regarding boarding procedures in the airport, one thing leads to another, and before we know it we have befriended Mr. Minsu Kim, a 24 year old third year university chemical engineering student from Seoul South Korea.
He is on his way for the first time to the United States for a thirty day tour of our country with thirteen other foreign visitors. We chat, and give him advice on things to see and do during his journey, during the conversation he asks me a few questions about my project, and we immediately make a connection. Who doesn't like to talk about food!
My wife and i have a history of befriending visitors from other countries, and welcoming them to our country, it's just who we are. With Minsu it was a no brainer, ( I'm a teacher).
He told me he had a two day free time scheduled in LA before his trip was to begin, so I invited him to a day in Long Beach, which he quickly accepted.
The following day, jet lag and all, I picked him up from his hotel at 10am, and headed straight to Redondo Beach Pier for coffee and a nice walk along the pier and beach, fortunately if was beautiful sunlit day, with no crowds.
We then headed south along the Palos Verdes peninsula where we visited Whites Point, Royal Palms Beach, and then on to the Korean Bell a beautiful gift to the United States from the Korean government in 1974 overlooking the pacific ocean at Fort MacAurther, another beautiful sight to see from every vantage point.
By the time we had reached the Vincent Thomas Bridge, we had become friends. We arrived at my home a short time later where he met my twenty-three year old son, Andy and my wife, Laura. He kept repeating he was experiencing the American dream as we sampled fresh grapes from my garden vine.
During our meeting in Japan, while exchanging information, he used and noticed my pen, one of three I had made especially for my trip to Vietnam. During the tour of our home, I gave him a tour of my shop, and my pen making equipment, so naturally after explaining the process, he sat back and I made him a beautiful pen from northern California redwood burl. The process took about an hour with the inlay work and all, but when all was said and done, he was thrilled, this is my gift to you my new son from Seoul, he was speechless.
By that time we were pretty hungry from the days events, we made a quick shopping trip to the market for sandwich making and dinner ingredients, beverages when we arrived back.
He stood there in amazement as I prepared our lunch, a roast beef sandwich, fresh farmers market fruit, and a beverage.
I couldn't figure out his curiosity and interest he seemed to be mesmerized as I prepared our meal. So I asked him up front, what's so interesting, he replied, everything, this morning, today, now!
He went on to say that in his country, this whole day would not happen. First of all, in Korea, strangers don't just approach another stranger and ask for anything, even directions. Second, and most important, a junior ( as in he ) would never associate openly with someone like me , his senior ( that would be me ), for anything, I mean anything, unless spoken to first, and yet, even at the airport in Japan ( remember here, he is a third year university student) , he was openly befriended by a group of American's, total strangers, (Fulbright Scholars no less), who treated him like an equal! Now, he finds himself in my home, getting what I called the $.50 tour of Long Beach, and I'm making him lunch! Can you feel his confusion and amazement. He asked me if this was a common trait of the american people with foreigners, and I replied that, yes , for the most part we are pretty much a friendly people, with everyone.
The day ended with he taking a nap in my hammock on the deck, and my getting in a good snooze as well, followed by dinner, roast rack of lamb ( which he had never had ), Bucks famous mashed potatoes, a fresh farmers market garden salad, and fresh strawberries for dessert, heaven for both of us after our combined journey.
The trip back to his hotel ,(9ish), was to say the least, interesting, as I sat in the back seat of Bucks truck, SILENCE, Buck volunteered to drive, and for most of the forty-five minute drive nothing was said, I watched his as he gazed at the sky line in a daze, I asked him, what do you feel, he responded, the american dream.
We now, have a new son.