by Tim Vanderburg
In December 2017, KAiAN hosted its very first National Adoptee gathering in Sydney.
The Gathering was made possible with the support of the Korean Embassy in Canberra, the Korean Culture Centre AU and the hard work of the KAIAN committee.
Saturday was the first official day of the gathering. Korean adoptees travelled from South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and other parts of New South Wales to support KAiAN’s inaugural gathering.
On Friday, KAIAN members met for dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant - a favourite for many Korean adoptees. Adoptees got to enjoy Korean flavours and to get to know each other before the Gathering.
The big day arrived on Saturday where all the members, special guests and KAiAN came to the Korean Culture Centre Sydney - ready for the Gathering to begin.
The day began with the KAiAN’s Presidents Welcome Address followed by our guest speaker Heera Heaser, followed by our Taste of Korea session with Heather Jeong.
Heera recently completed her PhD research on the Korean adoptee community in Australia and presented her findings to the Gathering.
Chef Heather Jeong is a popular figure on TV, in newspaper columns and events. Her career has spanned over 30 years. She is now a Korean cooking trainer at the Korean Culture Centre Sydney. Heather led a Korean food tasting experience where participants explored the tastes of different Korean food.
This was followed by the Deputy Head of Mission Chae Jin Won’s address for the gathering. The Embassy members joined us for lunch, which was a great opportunity for adoptees to meet them.
After lunch we conducted Age Breakout sessions which was an opportunity to share experiences and thoughts about different parts of being an adoptee. We discussed many topics like identity, racism and visiting Korea.
Ms Su Park from ISS/Relationships Australia SA presented a Birth Search process presentation. This was followed by a birth search and reunion adoptee experiences Q&A panel with three adoptees with different experiences. The adoptees had many questions and found answers through this session.
After we wrapped up the day activities, it was time to officially close the 2017 KAiAN Gathering. The official Gathering Dinner was held at Rydges World Squarem a fantastic location to end the Gathering.
The Embassy, Korean Culture Centre, KAiAN and its members joined in a wonderful dinner with formal speeches, interesting conversation and, of course, group photo - s a great memory of our Inaugural KAiAN gathering.