By Lisa Carolin
Experiencing the Christmas season in Michigan is a first for 22-year-old Suhhee Song, a native of Uiwang, South Korea, located south of Seoul.
She has been in the U.S. since August studying the English language at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA.
But since it is too far for her to go home to South Korea during the Christmas break, she has instead chosen to visit Michigan as part of the Christmas International House, a program based in Atlanta, which lets students choose a place they wish to visit for two weeks during the Christmas break.
“I chose Michigan because I have a friend who lives here,” says Song. “Chelsea is similar to Chambersburg. It’s calm and people are kind.”
Christmas International House works with church sponsors. St. Paul United Church of Christ is Song’s sponsor and formed a committee with its own church members as well as those from other churches to plan Song’s visit to Chelsea.
“My role has been to coordinate bringing the program to Chelsea,” says Maurine Nelson, who was one of the committee members taking Song around Chelsea on Thursday, Dec. 19. They started the day with a tour of Jiffy Mix.
“I never heard of Jiffy Mix before this morning,” says Song. “I tasted the Jiffy Mix brownies and they are delicious. It’s a big place.”
She also had a chance to walk around downtown Chelsea and was taken to the Chelsea Grill for lunch. “We have people from many denominations on the committee,” says Joannie Howell, one of the committee members joining Song for lunch. “I think it’s a wonderful thing to do for a student.”
Committee member Janet Kemp led a prayer when everyone’s meals were served. During the prayer, Kemp said, “Thank you for bringing different people from different lands with different beliefs together.”
Although Song is enjoying the opportunity to visit Chelsea, she does miss her family and home in South Korea. “When I think about missing home, I remind myself that I want to enjoy my time here in America,” says Song, who will be staying through May, 2014.
“I know English, but I couldn’t really speak it at home,” she says. “I came here to communicate with American people and understand the culture.”
Among the other plans made for Song during her stay in Michigan included experiencing Chelsea’s Holiday Light Parade, a visit to a dance club, and a trip to Greenfield Village.