Community Highlights, get to know the diverse Asian Pacific Islander communities across the state of Minnesota
by Sandy Kwan
Korean Service Center
Photo credits to Korean Service Center
In the 1970’s, a large wave of new Korean immigrants moved to Minnesota settling in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. The affordable housing in the neighborhood was ideal for the young immigrants studying at the nearby University of Minnesota or surrounding colleges. Slowly Minnesota’s Korean population diversified to include blue-collared workers and the Korean population became the second largest immigrating group in Minnesota in the late 1970’s. Since 1989, many Koreans who immigrated to Minnesota received ESL and citizenship classes from Korean Service Center (KSC). Over time, the services at KSC have developed to serve the growing number of families and the elderly Koreans living in Minnesota.
As the first wave of Korean students in Minnesota have graduated and moved on to become professionals, they have settled in the surrounding suburbs while the elderly population stayed in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. These elders cited Korean Service Center’s culturally specific assisted living program as the reason for staying in the area. Currently, over 100 Korean elders who reside in the Riverside Plaza and Cedar Minneapolis Public Housing receive bi-lingual and culturally specific program services including, two Korean meals daily, weekly nurse visits, housekeeping services and recreational and social activities. The elderly also have the Peace Garden to offer as a positive and productive outlet for their physical, mental and spiritual health.
As the numbers of Korean families have increased in Minnesota, Korean Service Center has expanded their programs to serve families, youth and adopted Koreans in Minnesota.
Family Enrichment – Yoonju Park, Executive Director of Korean Service Center, cited the growing generational issues within the household as the basis for offering their family enrichment programing for Korean families. As the 1.5 and second generation Korean Americans have established themselves in Minnesota, generational and cultural conflicts have arisen. Authoritarian parenting style is culturally acceptable in Korean society; however, as these families settle in America they have come to realize that this parenting style has taken a toll on the psychological well-being of the family. Many times cultural and language barriers provides tension and misunderstanding between parents and their children and results in less communication between generations.
To bridge the divide between generations, KSC has incorporated an intensive parent program based on the DoRanNo Mother and Father School from Korea. The program allows individuals to reflect on their parenting skills by considering how they were parented as children and how that has influenced their own parenting style, help them understand generational differences based on language and cultural barriers and to develop new communication channels with their children. Mrs. Park expressed her interest in expanding the techniques from the Mother and Father School to other Asian communities, believing that “it is very valuable for immigrant parents who experiences cultural bias and language barriers.”
Mrs. Park has especially expressed Korean Service Center’s interest in reaching out to and providing programming for non-Korean speaking Koreans. The 2000 Census estimated the population of Koreans living in Minnesota to reach over 30,000 and it is estimated that roughly half of this number is made up of Korean adoptees. As the number of Koreans in Minnesota has grown, it has become more apparent that Korean adoptees make up a large portion of the population, yet their voice is not often heard. During a visionary community meeting Korean Service Center asked Korean adoptees and Korean youth how KSC can better help them. They found that the non-speaking Korean population desired a space for cultural and language education and adoptees would like to receive post-adoption services. This feedback from the community will help lead the future direction of family programing for the new building that Korean Service Center has purchased.
Moving forward and expanding – Through the success of the various family enrichment programs at the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, Korean Service Center has plans to expand and develop a new family enrichment center in Lauderdale, Minnesota. The new building is located at 2417 Larpenteur Ave. Lauderdale, MN 55113, just off of Hwy 280, at the North East corner of Larpenteur and Eustis.
As the number of Koreans living in Minnesota have changed over the years it has been important for KSC to develop their programing to serve the community. This new building space is intended to be an open space for Korean society and to provide a space for Asian American community members who are looking for small office space. The area is intended to become a place for the Asian Community to be a ‘one-stop-shopping’ area for their convenience. Office space is open for rent in September. If you are interested in renting an office space please call Yoonju Park at 612-342-1344.