Originally from Seoul, Korea, Chong Ho has been working in the field of education and theatre. After being trained at the Korean National Performing Arts Academy, She came to the U.S. to complete her MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth at the University of Texas, Austin.
She has worked with all age groups, but especially loves working with children. Her teaching experience includes being a Drama Specialist with the Sadari Creative Drama Laboratory, a Lecturer in Theatre Education at numerous universities in Seoul, and has worked with children in California. Chong Ho, her husband and a couple of their friends and colleagues have created a movement and dance group called “Dance Tramp” and perform in Burlington.
Currently, Chong Ho works at Integrated Arts Academy as a literacy para-educator. She also teaches Korean language and drama at the Green Mountain Korean Cultural School in Essex. She lives in Burlington with her husband and two children, Lily and Jeju.
How did I end up in Vermont all the way from Seoul, Korea? I met my husband during my time in graduate school in Austin, Texas. I spent some time traveling back and forth between Korea and the U.S. and finally decided to settle in Sacramento, California.
We wanted to live somewhere either on the west or east coast of the country. My husband got a job at the University of Vermont and this initiated our move from Sacramento to Burlington in 2006. Living in a smaller city has had some limitations, especially not having access to enough Korean food (how important for a Korean to have Kimchee!). However, it has also opened up more opportunities for me and my family.
Both of us work in the performing arts, myself casually and my husband professionally. Burlington has been a great city for this. I have met more creative souls here in Burlington than any other place I’ve been. The city offers various options to produce work in theaters, but also in unconventional spaces or site performances.
It wasn’t until I had been here for a while that I realized that Vermont was the place the Nearings had settled with their dreams and passions. How I poured over The Good Life back in Korea right after college! Perhaps surprisingly, the Nearings’ works has been widely read in Korea.
My husband and I put together a dance musical piece based on the theme of “Back to the Landers,” influenced from dance and music from Korea. We performed this piece in the summer of 2015 around barns in small Vermont towns, singing and dancing in these spaces was incredibly meaningful to me. The highlight of the performances was at our friends’ old red barn, where my dearest farmer friends settled with their newborn baby.
Living in the Old North Burlington has been working out for our family. I believe the size of Burlington is just perfect for us. It is small enough for us to truly integrate with people of various backgrounds.
All of my thanks goes to the Family Room, a neighborhood support group for women and their families. It feels like I have raised my two kids through all of the play groups in the winter and garden plays during the summer. The Family Room is where people with culturally, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds come together. Since moving from Korea, I have never felt such a strong community connection.
Being so far away from Korea, I can only wish there was more Korean things available in Vermont. Speaking Korean by myself to my kids has a limit. Raising biracial and bilingual kids in Vermont can be isolating, but I see it as both challenging and rewarding. Finally, together with a few other Korean women, we started a Korean school–the Green Mountain Korean Culture School
The Green Mountain Korean Culture School has been very successful. There are over 30 adults and young people enrolled now. We teach Korean drumming, paper folding, crafts, and cooking. I am hoping to expand our school activities to other educational settings in the future.
I work at a neighborhood elementary school that my two kids attend. The school lets me surround myself with close to 30 different languages that are spoken in the homes of the children. With a great deal of minority student populations, we do need much more supportive resources and trained staff. These changes take time and the effort of determined individuals.
I have only seen a glimpse of change in this growing city over the past ten years. I’ve heard similar stories from others who have lived here for many years. Right now, Burlington is heading in a better direction and I am happy to be a part of it.