From hardly speaking English to owning three businesses in America

From hardly speaking English to owning three businesses in America

As a young woman who was born and raised near Seoul—South Korea, Ju Young Thomas never dreamed that she would someday be a successful, cross-culture businesswoman living in the United States.

I noticed the six-degrees of separation between Ju Young Thomas’s family and my own. When Ju was born—in 1950, my father was an American soldier in Korea during the Korean war. Six years after Ju immigrated to the United States, I would be living in Korea—walking some of the same streets that Ju had walked.

Six Degrees of Separation Explained

Ju owned two thriving retail, clothing stores in Wonju, Korea when a friend introduced her to an American man who worked at the television station as an Engineer in Seoul—South Korea.

Love blossomed between the cross-cultural couple, they were married, and later little Michelle Thomas was born in Korea.

Within three years Ju would find herself speaking very little English and living in the Southern United States, then in the Western United States, before she and Michelle would move to Germany where her father’s new military assignment was located. During the three years that the little family spent in Germany – Ju said, “The travel [across Europe] was very exciting. I went everywhere.” Ju visited Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and “Almost all Europe.”

Ju was raised in what might feel is a monocultural society in Korea. It would seem that way when one is living away from the U.S. military installations in Korea, and outside of major Korean cities. She had become the wife of an American man, and the mother of a Cross-Culture Kid (CCK). And, Ju herself was now a Third Culture Adult (TCA).

Language, culture, and a husband whose work often took him away from the family didn’t deter Ju.

She said, “My mind was always on business.” Ju intended to live the American dream. She felt that anyone could be successful in the United States with hard work and the right opportunities.

Ju did in fact go on to live the American dream. As a bright, woman, entrepreneur—Ju started three businesses in the U.S., which she operated for fifteen-years before switching careers. Ju is still an entrepreneur, but instead of selling clothing she buys, sells, and rents houses.

Entrepreneurship is in the family blood. Michelle Thomas—Ju Young Thomas’s daughter, also is an Entrepreneur and Realtor/Broker in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

korean, american, black, blasian
Michelle, her daughter and mother in Three generations of Korean-American Heritage

When I asked Michelle what it is like to be a CCK/TCA who was born in Korea and had traveled the world at a very young age, she said, “People are curious about me when they first meet me.” She had a very confident and relaxed outlook on ethnic heritage, race, and nationality.

Michelle said after she tells a curious person about the cultures that make her who she is, it becomes not even a concern, or topic of discussion.

Michelle’s daughter—Chloe Butcher had much the same response. “Kids notice that I look different. And, they think my mom is Filipino.” But after Chloe explains that her mother is half-Korean, ethnicity and nationality do not come up in conversation among her peers.

In getting to know Ju, Michelle, and Chloe—this writer has hope that the world is moving closer toward a post-racial society. One in which race, ethnicity, national origin, and prejudice no longer exists.

I would really like to know what you think. Let us continue the conversation–leave a comment.


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