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Lindsay Peifer

Description

Lindsay Peifer was born in Daebudo, South Korea. Her family later moved to Minnesota. She has taught at Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota for 19 years as an English teacher and a technology integration TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment).

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0:04:17

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

Transcription

Lindsay Peifer Transcription

“Listen to the Wind”

This island off the west coast of South Korea has seen all the movements of my father’s generation of Kims; it has born witness to the suffering and trauma of a country torn in different directions and of my family being scattered to different places too. This is the home that I almost forgot as it buried itself behind the new memories of a new land as I learned to listen to the wind from the other side of the world.
I have returned to this place after a 25-year separation—on the eve of the 50th year anniversary of the armistice of the Korean War. I have come to observe the changes, to pay respects to those who have died so that I can have the life I have today. I find myself standing within the chestnut grove my biological father planted. These 800 trees, only seedlings the last time that I was with them, have grown strong, tall, deeply rooted all around me. I am amazed at how thick these trees have grown, sharing no beginning, showing no end to their strength: 800 strong soldiers guarding our land, hiding its secrets. I, too, like these seedlings, have grown stronger, taller, and more deeply rooted but to another world—but it doesn’t lessen the emotion I feel, the connection I feel to this land, now that I am here looking at this island that once was my home. Standing here within the silent gaze of these wooden soldiers, I cannot see the rising hills, the organized fields lined with grapes, corn, and rice. I cannot see the ocean, nor feel her salty sting, but I can hear her voice carrying the whispers from those who have come before me, those who have sacrificed and toiled and plowed and fished and bled. Those voices reach to guide me, stretching to give me just one more minute with these soul guardians.

These chestnut trees were my father’s last goal and his success is evident as I look around me. They have lived on and thrived long since his death. I think he would be proud if he were standing here, looking at the legacy he left. I have to wonder, though, if he had lived, would he have returned often to wander through these branches, rest in their shadows, breathe in the voice of the ancestors that dance along the leaves? I reach out and gently run my hand on the rough bark as if it were my father’s skin I am touching. This is the closest I will ever be to him again—his arms are now branches and his fingers are now leaves and his fingerprints now chestnut orbs. I reach my arms up to try to touch one of the chestnuts safely cocooned in its furry lime green dress. I am overtaken with the desire to be one of these trees; I want to dance among these branches and wear these leaves like a crown. I pull myself up to the nearest limb and climb. I feel the breeze more the higher I climb and I feel like I am chasing that voice, his voice, as his spirit moves along the branches daring me to follow, urging me to move farther and farther up.