What’s new with you, @JunDishes?

While it hasn’t been too long since I featured @JunDishes in the Twitter Spotlight, she has been doing so much, particularly with her new venture Rice House that I was eager to bring you up to date.

From Jun, three new things:

1 – I opened the very first Korean restaurant, a takeaway joint, in Flanders: Rice House.

Aside from finances, Rice House is helping me share some of the Korean culture through food and conversations, with people here in Belgium. There are people still who associate Korea with only Kim Jong Un. Korea is about more than the division between North and South Korea. This is important to me because my son is half-Korean and at barely two-and-a-half, he recognizes already the Korean flag which adorns so much of Rice House.

At home I raise Noah as a trilingual child of mixed heritage, but Rice House now makes it easier to show that to him in a real way.

NoahRiceHouse

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Post-Kenya

Last night, I didn’t have to use a flashlight when I got out of bed to go to the bathroom.

Ibises and hyraxes didn’t wake me up at 4 am.

 

I didn’t have to tiptoe through an unfamiliar tent so as to avoid waiting my Kenya roommate Julie. (not that she ever complained; I highly recommend Julie as a travel companion!)

I didn’t need a hot water bottle to keep me warm as I slept.

HWB

I wasn’t greeted by several hundred children singing WELCOME OUR VISITORS! without having consumed an iced latte.

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Airport shopping in Dubai

Hi friends! I have missed you.
I’m in Dubai on my way from a wonderful time in Kenya.

Don’t worry: I didn’t buy any of these.

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I also considered buying a hookah just to see my friends’ reaction as I boarded the plane. But cooler heads prevailed.

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I also didn’t buy any Arabic lady fiction (because I will be asleep all the way to NYC).

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Scranton venue declines same-sex wedding

I was revolted to hear the news that the Inne at the Abingtons refused to book a same-sex couple’s wedding.

email

Via the Scranton Times-Tribune

Via my hometown newspaper, the Scranton Times-Tribune:

Venue refused to serve gays; sets off social media firestorm

NORTH ABINGTON TWP. — When Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, Desiree Mark of Greenfield Twp. abandoned her plans to be married in New York or Connecticut and happily focused on planning a wedding in her home state.

When the 29-year-old sent queries to Scranton area wedding venues requesting an appointment, she learned that marriage equality does not mean equality for gays and lesbians.

“Unfortunately, we do not hold same sex marriages at our facility,” read the email from Courtney Killeen, Wedding & Event Planner for Inne at the Abingtons. “I truly do hope you find somewhere that will fulfill all your wedding dreams.”

Met at the North Abington Twp. venue Thursday, Ms. Killeen confirmed the email was authentic and reflected the policy of the Inne, not her personal belief.

“I don’t agree with it,” she said, adding the owner, John O. Antolick, would be unlikely to comment publicly. Mr. Antolick did not respond to several requests for an interview.

Gays and lesbians gained the legal right to marry in Pennsylvania this year, but can be blocked from reception venues. With no legal protections for LGBT people in Pennsylvania, any business can refuse to serve someone who is, or perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

You can read the rest of the story here.

 

If there’s a bright spot, it’s that the comments were surprisingly civilized.

Comments

I can only hope that we move beyond such ridiculousness sooner rather than later.

Presents!

Google Maps told me the walk would be 0.9 miles. The humidity was rising, but a mile isn’t so far.

Plus I had just eaten a chocolate muffin from St. Balmain, justifying the indulgence by noting that there would be zero chocolate muffins in Kenya.

Once I passed the McCarren Park pool, the walk started sucking. The part of Greenpoint I found myself in would be best described as Not Cute. Homely, perhaps, as opposed to homey.

Greenpoint

Around the 0.7 mile mark, I wanted to shout “this is for you, Maasai kids!” but they couldn’t possibly have heard me over the noise from the BQE.

I started crying almost as soon as I walked into the Greenpoint dollar store.

Not because I was in a dollar store, per se, but because as I shuffled up and down the aisles, I was reminded of the directions my trip organizer had given me about how to choose a gift for my “buddy,” the student who would be my companion during my days volunteering at the Maasai school.

Books need to be culturally sensitive. Don’t buy candy–most of the kids won’t have a toothbrush.

Avoid anything that requires batteries or electricity. These kids don’t have access to either. A well-intentioned volunteer gave his buddy an iPod, but once the battery dies, it’s useless.

Good gifts include a simple journal, a solar-powered flashlight or a puzzle that shows a picture the kids can relate to.

At the dollar store, I felt like a failure. None of the toys seemed right for my teenage buddy, a fourteen year old boy named Steven.

As I put a notebook, a pack of pencils and a pencil case in my cart, my heart sank: I had just committed to buying office supplies for someone who will almost certainly help me have an eye-opening, life-affecting experience.

I suppose he already has, in some ways.

Hopefully when the time comes, my modest gifts will somehow be the right ones.

[For context, this post was written on late on Thursday, July 10 and scheduled for Monday, July 14. I'm set to present these tokens to Steven on Friday, July 18.]

Pre-trip confession

As you read this, I’m on a flight to Kenya. Crazy, right?

Instead of scrambling to schedule lots of blog posts, I ran last minute errands and…got a mani-pedi.

Nails

So sue me.

There are a few posts in the queue, but it will be a little quiet around here July 23 or so. Hopefully absence will make your heart grow fonder.

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