Kalijah Rahming: Racial Formation in Seoul

My name is Kalijah Rahming, and I am a junior at Florida State University. Although I entered my undergraduate career very unsure of what field of study I wanted to pursue, I eventually decided on Sociology and Humanities. I was fortunate enough to take a sociology course during my senior year of high school and was delighted by how it allowed me to study human behavior on a larger scale. Additionally, I have always been drawn to the written word and often spend many hours of my week reading, writing, or editing articles for Her Campus FSU. In addition to being a member of Her Campus, I also am a member of Alliance for Black Women and the Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society. This semester, I was also fortunate enough to secure a position at FSU’s Career Center as a Mock Interview Mentor, where I assist current students and recent alumni in preparing for future interviews. After I graduate from FSU in Spring 2023, I plan on attending graduate school in the Northeast.

Kalijah Rahming, Sociology major
Phi Eta Sigma Undergraduate Research Award winner

As a military child who has had the privilege to live and travel both in the United States and abroad, I have always understood the importance and power of surrounding oneself in diverse environments. This was actually part of the reason why I decided to study at FSU, as I was excited to be in an environment where not everyone thought like me. Studying abroad has been a goal of mine ever since my high school years when I listened to my Spanish teacher share tales of her travels to Peru. After I discovered that I could study in Seoul, South Korea this summer through the CIEE program, I knew that I needed to apply. I am very excited about the chance to take courses at Yonsei University, as the experience will immerse me in the culture and help me learn the Korean language. This experience is made even better because I will be attending this program with one of my closest friends, Susan Morales.

While we are in South Korea, Susan and I will be formulating a report of all our experiences that primarily focuses on our identities as Black women within a foreign society. We were drawn to create this project after watching several NPR videos about the experiences of Black Americans who currently lived in Japan. Many of these interviewees stated that they did not want to return to the United States, due to the racism, discrimination, and high levels of discomfort that they experienced here. As Black women ourselves, we too have looked for environments where we feel safe and comfortable. Our project is focused on racial formation, or how race and racial categories are created, manipulated, and destroyed. Our six weeks in Seoul will give us the opportunity to make first-hand observations that reveal how our race and racial category will be interpreted within this society. Dr. Azat Gundogan, a distinguished professor at Florida State University, will serve as our supervising professor. We are very grateful for his help, as he has already proven to be a reliable resource.

Our report will be in the form of an artistic zine, which we estimate will be between 20 to 40 pages in length. This zine will consist of journal entries, photographs, and QR codes that will link to videos or interactive experiences of our choosing. As a photographer myself, I am excited to document clear images and videos of our experiences in real-time. We plan on giving out copies of our zine at the President’s Showcase in the fall for all who are interested. We are very excited for this next step in our journey.

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