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Mount Si students, Korean visitors make cultural, culinary connection

At a welcome ceremony for Snoqualmie
At a welcome ceremony for Snoqualmie's sister city visitors from Gangjin Korea, Laura Tarp's culinary students, in white, posed with visiting Gangjin officials. Dignitaries pictured from left are: Gangjin Council President Eun Sik Kim, Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, Gangjin Vice Mayor Deau Kuen Ro, NW Honam Assocation formal president Choon Ho Shin, Gangjin High school principal Yong Suk Kim, Education support director Kwan Dong Bae, NW Honam Association president Kwon Hyeong Ju, NW Honam Association manager Mun sik (David) Kim, Saint Joseph Girls High school principal Helena No, Education development director Jun Hyeong Lim. Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Three to a hand, two high schoolers loaded a container with raw eggs in the shell. It was the opposite of a spectacular prank, though, because Dillon and TJ, both students in Laura Tarp's culinary class, were preparing to serve a special meal to honor visiting guests from Korea.

The class was making final preparations of their bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish of rice and spiced meats and vegetables, served with a fried egg on top.

"When I first told the kids about it, we looked it up, and they said 'ewww!'" Tarp said.

But on Thursday, Jan. 13, they fussed over the final presentation instead, stirring up their home-made hot sauces, and waiting for the chance to serve their guests.

First, though, there are welcome speeches, hugs, gifts, thank-yous, all translated to and from Korean by Agnes Shin.

This is the third year of Snoqualmie's sister-city exchange with Gangjin, South Korea, and the program has developed a kind of rhythm, with periodic visits between the two cities by students and officials. Although students will be staying in the area for about a month, many of the officials could stay only a few days.

"They are here to make the formal connection to the government," explained Karen Granger, of the Snoqualmie Sister Cities Association.

Extending that connection, one woman, Kyung Ja Baek, is visiting the city on a six-month exchange, to learn more about how the city builds planned communities in its rural setting.

The 13 visiting students will attend Mount Si or Eastside Catholic High School. While at Mount Si, counselor Jessica Easthope will help the Korean students adjust to their new environment.

"This is a whole different experience for them," Easthope said during the welcome ceremony.

Delaney Fulton, 15, plans to go shopping a lot with the girl her family is hosting. Her mom, Cheryl said Delaney and her friends "all want to hang out with her and show her what it's like to be an American teenager."

Many host families were planning very traditional American activities, or "basic stuff" as one host-parent called it.

Snoqualmie Sister Cities Association Director Tina McCollum had several events planned for the group, but noted that since the group is a non-profit, most of its activities must be locally funded.

For more information, visit www.snoqalmiegangjin.com

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