The Fabric of Washington

Kim Sauer was inspired to share this post after reading Ayanna Coleman’s post a few weeks ago. I’m so glad to bring more voices forward whose experiences and contributions are what make Washington a strong and beautiful place to live and work. -Renée

The last few weeks of 2018 I enjoyed the spirit of the holiday season, catching up with friends and family, writing cards, buying gifts, and of course going to parties. While I am terrible at singing and dancing, what is a party without those? It is a must for those who love a hearty laugh. At least, that is what I say to console myself!

Two parties with community organizations that share immigrant backgrounds were meaningful to me this past holiday season.

The Korean Multicultural Family Association (KMFA) party is usually within a close circle of friends but this year they welcomed a few new friends from the Washington Immigrant Network (WIN). The KMFA is a group of first-generation Korean women who immigrated to America and come from many backgrounds. They are barbers, caregivers, restaurant owners, bank tellers, and homemakers. Whatever their occupation may be, they have the intention of helping out and contributing. Living firsthand the multicultural home life, they share their experiences with the next generation.

For the last two years, they have worked with Jeollabuk-do Province in South Korea on an exchange program. Children from Korea with non-Korean-born mothers are hosted with American families in Washington State for a few weeks and experience life in America. While they visit, they attend school, visit local companies like Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon, and do other fun activities like shopping. Simultaneously, children from Washington State visit Jeollabuk-do Province to experience life in Korea for a couple of weeks.

As we start the party, the master of ceremony (MC) for the evening asked us to stand up, salute the flag, and sing the national anthem in less than perfect English.  She may have been nervous about her pronunciation in front of the guests who spoke English without an accent, but she gracefully hosted the party and the WIN members were delighted with the unfamiliar celebration. Some lucky raffle winners went home with jars of glasswort powder which was donated by the grateful grandmother of a child who recently visited Korea, who had come home with a whole new positive attitude.

Another party that I attended was hosted by the Korean Women Realtors Association (KWRA). KWRA has been helping one another and their clients for 26 years. They too reach out to the community and award scholarships to students every year.  As we were seated, the MC skillfully introduced nearly a hundred guests without notes or prompting.  Needless to say, I was in total amazement.  The party went on with festivities and some very happy students.

These nights of celebration were full of appreciation, laughter, applause, good food, good music, good company, and of course, lots of pictures. No Korean party goes without taking pictures!

On my way home, I realized how we are all intertwined. Groups like the KMFA and the KWRA are both examples of groups helping and serving one another and their community from wherever they are. People all over the state, contribute to making the lives of others better in small and large ways. We are woven together, and the resulting fabric is Washington.

Kim Sauer has worked for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board for over 20 years. She currently manages the Alcohol Server Training Program and serves as Secretary for the Washington Immigrant Network. Photo credit: Kim Sauer.