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UCC family offers South Korean boarder fun-filled weekend of cultural exchange

Hosting Kevin LeeUCC has a tradition of Toronto-area families hosting boarders for holidays and long weekends. It’s another way the College strives to offer its out-of-town boarding community a “home away from home.” Here, a UCC parent reports on the experience.  

By Carmen Chan

As a UCC boarding volunteer family, we invited Foundation Year student Kevin Lee, a South Korean boarder from Seoul, to spend the Thanksgiving long weekend with us. (The Chans have two sons at UCC, Raphael in Grade 9 and Rodney in Grade 7.)

We had planned an action packed, four-day event for Kevin. First, we took him to the Korean community near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, with its cluster of Korean businesses, restaurants and the Korea Exchange Bank. Also, we made a stop at Galleria, a Korean supermarket.

Kevin was excited to see his favourite restaurant and familiar items. His sense of humour is contagious. Our conversations covered food, culture and the current female president of Korea. It was interesting to find out that she loves reading the famous, ancient Chinese novel, Three Kingdoms. The first night the boys hit it off and talked until midnight.

The following morning was an outdoors day. We went hiking at Mono Cliff. The gorgeous fall colours were breathtaking. On our way back, we saw the wonderful countryside scenery of Ontario. There were many barns with cows, horses and sheep. Corn and pumpkin fields flew by our car windows.

In the evening, Kevin joined our extended family for a sumptuous dinner to enjoy the seasonal, fresh Alaska king crab. He found the cooking delicious. I told Kevin the weekend was not only Thanksgiving, but also a Chinese ancestor memorial festival called Chong Yang. It was also Raphael’s great-grandfather’s memorial birthday. It has been our family tradition to have an extended family gathering on this special weekend for these reasons.

Sunday was a restful day and we prepared a special hot pot dinner at home. Kevin loved eating from a hot pot — to the point that he wants to open a hot pot restaurant when he returns to Seoul. I told him hot pot is popular in northern China, especially in winter. After dinner Kevin joined the family to play a board game called Power Grid which teaches you how to use energy efficiently. We also watched a Korean baseball game and enjoyed a Korean drink called Citron during the game. Kevin recalled the lovely memory of his grandma making this drink for him when he was sick in Seoul. I told him that it was my father’s secret recipe for when I caught flu as little girl. It was amazing to see that we shared traditional Asian wisdom.

On Monday, the boys slept in. After brunch we all watched the new movie Gravity. Seeing the astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone survive by driving different satellite stations made by multi-national countries, we visualized our beautiful globe. Respecting each other’s culture and being open-minded are so important in building a harmonious global village.