By Soo-Young Chin, Dora Yum Kim
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Extra resources for Doing what had to be done: the life narrative of Dora Yum Kim
It offends her sense of morality and society that these stories might be lost, and the telling was the corrective measure. But to me, many of these tales sometimes seemed disconnected from the life story project or the hwan'gap. Once I recognized that despite my Asian ancestry, my model for a life was embedded within the Western autobiographical tradition and that Dora was committed to including particular stories, I struggled to make them fit. But I did not understand her sense of person and story until about six months into the project.
People who succeed at such cultural crossings develop a variety of culturally appropriate self-presentations. This adaptive skill shows up in Page 3 behaviors that express resilience among the American-born children of Koreans who immigrated at the turn of the century. This distinguishes them from their second-generation Chinese and Japanese American peers 2 who had ethnic agemates with whom they could associate and commiserate. The particular ways in which she utilized her survival skills throughout her life also distinguish Dora from other Korean American women of her generational cohort.
You've included everyone. But you never really talk about yourself. Who exactly are you? " Dora paused before responding, "That's a really hard question. I don't have Page 12 an answer to that. I don't really know how I think about myself. I know kids these days seem to be concerned about 'who they are,' but I don't think we thought about things like that when I was growing up. " After another long pause she said, "I just don't think of myself like that. I'm telling you about my life, and that should tell you something about me.