When I went on SST, I wasn’t a student, I wasn’t in a host family and I wasn’t a unit leader. My father and mother, Harold and Patricia Yoder, led the 1972 group to South Korea. I was a sophomore in high school, barely two years younger than the youngest college student in our group. I was too young to be noticed by many of the students, but not too young to learn a lot about myself and the world.
My immediate reaction to Korea was to realize people at the college weren’t kidding when they talked about culture shock. This was the East; I was comfortable in the West. Many things were different: the hole toilets on the ground that you squatted to use and stall doors in public restrooms that went down to the ground; lots of fish instead of hamburger; marinated meat called bulgogie, which would become my favorite dish.
But even at 16 years old, I was no stranger to SST. Two friends had also gone with their parents as SST leaders to Jamaica and Honduras. My parents had always wanted to lead a unit but waited until the college sent students to South Korea. Right after they married, they did MCC work in Japan and Korea; my mother was the first civilian woman to go to South Korea after the war, and they wanted badly to go back with my family.