Howard Magazine - Page 30 - Learning Korean

Howard Magazine
- Page 30
Learning Korean

As the community grows, residents take up a new language to connect with their neighbors


by mike kLingaman Howard Magazine


Each Monday night, in the dead of winter, Arti Sardesai drives to the Miller Library in Ellicott City, takes a seat and immerses herself in learning Korean. At 49, it’s not easy mastering a foreign tongue, but Sardesai spends the hour studying the structure and nuances of a language that she believes will benefit her work as an occupational therapist in the area.


For 15 weeks about a dozen students, mostly women, pore over their lessons, taught by a Korean instructor in a program sponsored by the Howard County Library and funded by the Korean Education Center in Washington, D.C. Come April, at semester’s end, Sardesai and her classmates hope their grasp of the language, and Korean culture, will help them reach out to a rapidly growing populace in the region.


More than 13,000 Howard County residents are of Korean descent, and they comprise 4.2 percent of the population — more than double that of any other county in Maryland. Moreover, the county’s Korean population nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to the latest census data. Asian-owned businesses saturate a busy 5-mile stretch of Route 40, dubbed “Korean Way” in 2016 by the state Department of Transportation.


The Miller Library sits in the midst of that evolving community, so when the Korean Education Center approached officials there about hosting the class, “it was like manna from heaven,” branch manager Susan Stonesifer said. “I mean,


Korean language instructor Jaihong Joo teaches the class how to pronounce characters of the Korean alphabet. The 15-week Korean for Beginners course at the Miller branch library in Ellicott City teaches students key aspects of Korean culture, food and basic expressions.

Photos by nate Pesce