By Jason KUROSU
In April, Crescenta Valley High school junior Rachel Harvey joined 15 other high school students on a two week trip to Korea, an endeavor intended to immerse the students in another culture and to emphasize the importance of “bridging the gap” between countries.
Harvey and the other students traveled as part of Project Bridge, a program established by the Pacific Century Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on international relations. Eight Los Angeles area and eight New York area high schoolers were chosen via a rigorous screening process, which pared 135 applicants down to the eventual 16 youth ambassadors.
Harvey said the trip was “really fun” but also described a host of eye-opening experiences which come naturally with visiting a foreign culture. Among the notable moments of her trip were the visits to numerous Buddhist temples, where the students participated in traditional morning meditation and percussion performances. Visiting the Demilitarized Zone was like “standing on another planet.” Seeing the difference between her group, representing a variety of ethnicities, and the Korean populace, was a striking realization of the true diversity of today’s Americans.
Harvey also had the opportunity to flex her Korean skills, saying she held her own despite only two years of Korean classes at Crescenta Valley High.
The youth ambassadors also made presentations on contemporary Korean culture and how it relates to America. Harvey’s project covered the causes and effects of the Korean War.
Embracing aspects of other cultures appears to also run in the family, as Harvey’s brother, Brendan, helped put together a Japanese tea garden at Dunsmore Elementary School.
Brendan’s mother, Rebecca, volunteers at Dunsmore, helping out with gardening. An idea to help patch up an empty dirt area filled with weeds at the school led to Brendan’s Eagle Scout project.
Sixty to 70 volunteers helped Brendan create the garden over the course of two Saturdays, one for the weeding and preparation, the other for the planting.
Brendan is currently a seventh grader at Rosemont Middle School.
Rachel is currently in the college application process and said she would love to pursue international business.