[Exploring Korean Culture] (MOMO CAMP) In a Fast-Changing World, A Sense of Identity Can Help Young People Stay Grounded

January 17, 2024

Smartphones and social media aren’t even two decades old and they’ve already transformed life as we know it, accelerating globalization and redefining what it means to live in a digitally connected world.

It’s a lot of change to handle for anyone, but it’s especially so for young people who are still figuring out who they are and where they belong. And for children of Korean heritage, there are even more questions about their history and identity. What can they do to develop the resilience, flexible thinking, and confidence they’ll need to successfully navigate an ever-shifting world?

Sam Paik, founder of Momo Camp, a US-style boarding camp set to launch this summer in Seoul for children of Korean heritage, has an idea. It involves introducing youngsters to their heritage and connecting them with their peers, so they can learn about themselves while learning about the world. He saw the power of this firsthand with the first camp he organized, Camp Hokukea in Hawaii.

At Camp Hokukea, visiting Korean students were invited to interact with their local Hawaiian peers — with remarkable results. The Korean students accelerated their English skills and were fully immersed in US culture. The Hawaiian campers got a window into Korea in a way that they could never get from pop culture and social media alone. And all of the children made friendships that spanned national borders and built confidence in their ability to tackle new challenges.

Seeing how well this approach worked for Camp Hokukea, Paik decided to apply it to Momo Camp as well. This summer, the first cohort of campers at Momo Camp will immerse themselves in Korean culture through a range of experiential learning activities. The camp schedule includes collaborations with local schools, where select students will act as ambassadors to Momo Camp, visiting the campus every Friday and Saturday to participate in group projects, talent shows, and other fun, friendship-building activities. On top of that, campers will also have daily Korean language lessons with expert teachers, dig into bibimbap, gukbap, and other Korean dishes at mealtimes, and go on field trips twice a week to cultural sites old and new, such as temples, palaces, SM Town, and Gangnam.

Over a month of exploring and expanding their own horizons, campers will have the opportunity to make unforgettable memories and lifelong friends. Just as importantly, they’ll have the chance to know more about themselves and their Korean heritage, giving them the springboard they need to leap into the next stage of life, confident in who they are and what they can offer to the world, whatever it looks like next.

For more information on Momo Camp and to apply for the summer 2024 session, visit www.momocamp.org.

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Exploring Korean Culture – MOMO CAMP