By HANS MADSEN
BARNUM – For a group of South Korean children and their moms, who have recently relocated to the area for their fathers’ jobs at the CJ Bio America plant, coming face to face with a lively flock of “dak” at the Tom and Jane Condon farm proved just the first new adventure of the day.
The dak – which Woo Yeon Chang said is the South Korean word for chicken – were an instant hit with the children.
So were the combine, grain wagon, semitrailers and the hay wagon used to get from the farm site to the field being harvested by the Condons.
Chang said the landscape, with its corn, was quite a bit different than what she was used to in South Korea.
“Korea is really mountainous,” Chang said.
In South Korea, farms and fields are smaller, and much of the agricultural production is centered around rice. Corn, she said, is also grown, but usually only in smaller plots for family consumption.
Chang’s reaction to the combine – once up close – was awe.
“It’s bigger than I expected,” she said.
Chang had a question for Jane Condon.
“How come you guys don’t have any scarecrows here?”
“It’s a myth,” Condon replied.
Chang’s son, Ji Ho Han, 11, is a sixth-grader at St Edmond Middle School.
He’s doing well, which is a payoff from studying English since third grade.
“I understand everything,” Han said proudly.
He got to ride up and down corn rows with Tom Condon driving the combine, something he enjoyed greatly, he said.
Most of the dozen children Friday held onto the ears of corn they got to pick. Some picked off the kernels. Others, like Han, were going to take them home.
“I’ll feed the birds at home,” he said.
Jane Condon, who hosting the families, was glad they visited the farm.
“It’s an honor to have then come out,” she said. “We love it.”
Linda Mitchell, the principal at St. Edmond Elementary, said the idea for the tour evolved from a tea that a group from St Edmond, Fort Dodge Community Schools, Iowa Community Central College and the Area Education Agency held for the fresh arrivals to welcome them to the community.
“We asked ourselves, how we can help these families adjust?” she said.
The response was a list of things the South Korean families wanted to see and do. They included seeing the harvest, but there were other new experiences too. For instance, where do they go for city services or find things to do with their children after school?
The result has brought two nations together.
“It’s been a great experience for us,” Mitchell said.
Ji Ho Han, 11, had another term for it: “mut-ju.”
For those who are a little rusty on their Korean, here’s the translation: “It was cool.”
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