July 17, 2020

Emily Lines, Chair DA Global AAPI Caucus

Hi, Everyone! I’m Emily and I am an Indiana voter and have been living in Berlin, Germany for the past nine years. Currently, I am the Vice Chair of the Berlin Chapter and the Events and Fundraising Coordinator for DA Germany, as well as a DPCA Voting Representative.

Originally born in Daegu (then known as Taegu), South Korea, I was adopted at the age of three months. My parents were from Missouri, but I grew up in Kentucky and Indiana, surrounded by a majority white community. My first experience with meeting someone from Korea was in third grade when a new student arrived at our school. My teacher paired us up and asked that I help her get settled and show her around school. As thrilled as I was to meet someone from Korea, I suspect our pairing was because of our shared background/attributes. Either way, I am still grateful that I was able to become best friends with this new student. I will never forget sleeping over at her house and eating traditional Korean food for the first time.

My family was always open about the fact that I was adopted. It wasn’t until high school when I had the chance to visit Korea. Once we were there, I was amazed at how different I felt. Being in the majority for the first time in my life was great. Having grown up in a majority white community, I would forget how Korean I actually looked, so I did not feel like I actually belonged in South Korea. I quickly realized that I did look more Korean than I thought, since classmates did not notice me in the crowds, everyone assumed I spoke Korean, and I think many thought I was the tour guide for my classmates.

After returning from the trip, my interest in Korea grew dramatically. I took several courses about Korea my senior year of college and since then, I have spent more time reflecting on what it means to be Korean, specifically a Korean adoptee. Living in Germany has added another layer to understanding my identity since many people question my Americanness when they ask where I am from. That question is typically followed up with, “But, really, where are you from?” By being a member of this caucus, I am very excited to have the chance to learn more about the culture, history, and importance of this growing sector of the U.S. population. It is also wonderful to meet other AAPI members of Democrats Abroad and recognize how diverse we are as a community. As one of the Co-Chairs, it is an honor to be able to represent one of these many diverse faces.