Tarleton State University’s study abroad program granted sophomore, Isaiah Regeon the opportunity to connect with his family in South Korea for the first time.
Regeon’s initial commitment for study abroad was for his kinesiology degree and to get credits out of the way, but he also was interested in seeing his extended family that he’s never met.
“I didn’t even know South Korea was an option. When my girlfriend showed me the flyer for Korea it immediately changed my mind. I knew I had family over there and if I went I would be there for a long period of time,” Regeon said.
After receiving help from his community, family and scholarships, Regeon was able to afford the trip and see his family. On the trip, Regeon took a basic Korean language class and Korean literature with professor Dr. Marcy Tanter, at the University of Dongguk in Suwon.
“When I made it over there, my grandmother had contact with her oldest sister and (my grandmother made it possible that) I could get in contact with her through email and social media. A friend through study abroad, he translated for me and helped me see my family in Seoul,” Regeon said.
With Regeon’s family being three and half-hours away, his translator helped him meet them in the middle in Yong-Dong, where they stayed two nights.
Regeon said he felt as if he was at home when he met with his family for the first time.
“It still felt like family, like I wasn’t meeting anyone different or new. Everything felt like ‘this is my family, this is where I’m supposed to be right now,’” Regeon said.
But Regeon does have some family from Korea living in the states. Regeon’s grandmother once lived in a town called Yong-Dong in South Korea until she was 20 years old. But for 40 years now, Regeon’s grandmother has lived in the states. Being so far away from Korea, she has not been able to see her family.
“The reason they haven’t seen each other is because it costs a lot of money to go back to Korea and it costs a lot of money for the amount of people who want to come see her in America,” Regeon said.
Regeon said after his experience visiting with his family that his grandmother has plans of going this summer to finally be reunited with her family, too.
“She wants to go back this upcoming summer, she said for me to be ready [because] we are going,” Regeon said.