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“My motivation to move was strictly due to not wanting to become complacent, to not live in one city, one state, one region my whole life.” My Conversation With Sonya Yoon Ja Oh of the AAAW

Happy Monday!  We’re slated for a fantastic week here at Land of Gazillion Adoptees.  On deck for Tuesday is Vietnamese adoptee Indigo Willing, who will talk about her love for White Castle, Harold, and Kumar.  On Thursday, Indian adoptee Sumitra Dorner talks about her hilarious son Sunil.  And on Friday, I may break the four posts a week schedule by talking smack about a variety of topics.  But then again, perhaps I’ll save that for next Monday.  It’s probably not proper to end a week by angering others.  But then again, I’m not proper at all…

Enough with the banter!  Kicking the week off is Sonya Yoon Ja Oh, who left us Minnesotans for one of my all time favorite cities.  Man, I’m totally jealous…

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: I love the Pacific NW, and you appear to be hunkering down in the region.  When did you go out to Seattle and what are you doing there?

Sonya: I relocated to Seattle, WA from Minneapolis, MN in 2007 after I completed my Masters in Social Work from the University of MN.  My motivation to move was strictly due to not wanting to become complacent, to not live in one city, one state, one region my whole life.  In 2004, I attended the Gathering in Seoul, Korea and met the then President of Asian Adult Adoptees of WA (AAAW).  He invited me out to Seattle the following summer to participate as a counselor for a Korean Adoptee teen camp.  I had been thinking about Seattle for a while.  After traveling regularly for the next three summers, I realized that Seattle was where I wanted to be.

I’m currently working for a non-profit organization that provides mental health services in the community.  That agency has me contracted with the City of Seattle judicial system, where I’m a Social Worker/Court Liaison in Mental Health Court, one of the few specialty courts in the nation.

Personally, I recently purchased a home and a dog.  The additional benefit of living in the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of outdoor activities.  I’m an avid snowboarder during the (long) winter season, from November through June; you’ll find me on the mountain a lot.  So, basically I’m keeping busy.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Nice!  You’ve been involved with the adoptee community for quite some time.  Would you mind talking about what you were involved in during your time in MN and what you’re doing now in Washington?

Sonya: My first foray into adoptee things was volunteering in post adoption services with an adoption agency in St. Paul, MN in 1999.  Upon meeting and volunteering with other Korean adults, I became educated to the other services available to us, AK Connection being one of them.

Through the AK Connection and my connections with other networks, I attended and participated in multiple events; KAAN conferences, volunteering as a counselor with Camp Choson, Mini Gatherings, Gatherings in Korea and local AK Connection activities.  I eventually joined the AK Connection Board of Directors in 2003 where I helped to organize, plan and coordinate local activities in MN, as well as network with the growing national and international adoptee community.  When the International Korea Adoptee Association (IKAA) began to establish itself and collaborate with other organizations, I became the IKAA representative for AK Connection and on the planning committee for the 2007 Gathering in Korea.  When I relocated to Seattle, WA, I joined the Board of Directors for Asian Adult Adoptees of WA, which I had the fortunate privilege of already knowing.

These days, I’m the IKAA representative for AAAW, and I assisted with some discussions for the 2010 Gathering in Korea.  I currently hold the title of Secretary for AAAW.  I also feel that it’s important to support all types of services.  I’m a member of a grass roots political Korean American organization and volunteer with a youth services program.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Aren’t you helping with a September event?  Would you mind talking about what the event will be like?

Sonya: AAAW will be celebrating its 15th years of existence by hosting the 15th Anniversary Mini-Gathering from September 15-18, 2011 in Seattle, WA.  The Board of Directors called for a separate Planning Committee to coordinate this event.  This committee consists of local Asian Adult Adoptees in the Seattle area (and three AAAW Board Members, myself included) working together to create programming, local site seeing, and fun activities.

The 15th Anniversary Mini-Gathering will host programming similar to that of all Mini-Gathering and Gatherings that have taken place around the USA and International cities since the “Gathering” inception in the early 90‘s.  Breakout sessions will provide an adoptee only space for dialogue and sharing.  Educational sessions about adoptee related topics will provoke thoughts, ideas, and conversation.  A Gala Dinner, a tradition, will offer an opportunity for participants to dine together and acknowledge a special evening of being unified as a community.  Additionally, at this 15th Anniversary Mini-Gathering, a mix of social activities has been planned.  Site seeing tours of Seattle and neighboring islands will give first timers a chance to see the diversity WA has to offer.  The food tour will be a great way to sample local cuisine of the Pacific Northwest.  And on Friday, a musical showcase is scheduled, in vein with Seattle’s musical notoriety, but in this case we’ll be highlighting adoptee artists and musicians.

We hope those close to Seattle will be excited to visit!

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Man, I love the city, the food, and music scene…I wish I could be there!  But I know you, dear reader, may be able to attend.  If you’re interested, you can register here.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. “As an adoptee, I always had a fantasy/dream/story of what the day would be like meeting my birthmother or father. When I found out that this fantasy/dream/story wasn’t reality and in fact the reality was the total opposite, well, it left me heart
  2. “As an adoptee, I always had a fantasy/dream/story of what the day would be like meeting my birthmother or father. When I found out that this fantasy/dream/story wasn’t reality and in fact the reality was the total opposite, well, it left me heart

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