Guest Post by Gaby Parker:
Just a couple days after leaving South Korea, I still can’t believe that I had the amazing opportunity to spend a month in such a great country! I think about all that I was able to see, do, and learn and am still kind of awestruck! It seems as if just two years ago, I was walking into the Ritenour building and going to the water fountain (as everyone does their first time) before stepping foot into the Tea House. It’s hard to believe that something that started out as just a place to hang out with a cup of tea has become something that would mean so much to me and become a part of my person! Especially after spending the first part of my summer on a tea field in South Korea with my best friends and the amazing people of the tea world! We had the chance to do so much and I just know when I return home, I will never be able to truly put into words all that we did and how great the trip was!
As I reflect back on this past month in Korea, after thinking about all of the amazing food, my mind leads me in three directions. The first is all knowledge that I was able to gain while in Korea about tea. Although, I passed the Tea Specialist exam last spring and know the basics about tea ceremony, being able to further that knowledge and use it in everyday life was amazing. I know I’ll never look at a bowl of tea the same way after this trip. We all forget how much sweat and work has been put into the smallest things that are involved in everything in our life. Especially, that small cup of tea that we all crave everyday! This trip really just brought tea full circle for me, starting out as a bud and leaf combination, transforming into a dark padiocha, and ending as 1 of many leaves brewing in a yixing! It also just goes to show how tea can be a never ending education! As more and more time goes by, I keep learning more and I love it!
Next, is the opportunity I had to broad my global prospective and gain so much more appreciation for the Korean culture and the people within it. Everyone that I was able to meet and learn about is something that I’ll never forget because each person was so unique in their own way! I’m going to miss all of the students, the professors, the potters, the tea producers, and so many more people that I’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know!
The last direction my mind leads me to is how after spending four weeks with my friends, Julie, Jason, Liz and Pat, in Korea how much better I’ve got to know each and every one of them. Without each one of them, I don’t know how we would have survived! We became a little tea family that watched and helped each other grow into better and more knowledgeable people! There have been so many inside jokes, feelings, laughs, and even tears that we’ve all shared together and it just warms my heart every time I look back on it!
This just all goes to show the power of tea and the tea world! Many people enjoy the taste and health benefits of tea, but I’ve learned that there is so much more! It brings people together from different cultures, backgrounds, and countries. Stephane Erler, who owns the Tea Masters Blog, once wrote “Tea knows no boundaries” and after all my experience in the past few months, it’s never felt so true! It’s astounding how something so simple can bring so many people together and create a giant global family!
Korea was completely amazing and I cannot wait to show everyone the pictures and tell some amazing stories! I hope that one day I am able to return and experience even more things because it honestly became my home for such a short time! It wasn’t enough. Not only that, but I cannot wait to see the next new and exciting things that the Tea Institute at Penn State has to offer me because thus far, I couldn’t be any happier!
Have a good rest of the summer! Annyeong!