Even though most users of Ham Radio are Caucasian old men, and I am a South Korean young woman, they are like me – trying to speak in a “second language” to get their ideas across. The risk of being misunderstood by someone who speaks a different language or comes from a different background makes us think harder as we converse. The distance we experience can draw out feelings of loneliness. I think it is important to capture this shared feeling of loneliness, which creates our inner drive to communicate and to be understood.
I am keenly interested in how other people live. I began the Ham Radio exploration when I lived in Chicago as an undergraduate. I was wandering around rural areas of Chicago. I found one isolated house and I was so curious about who lived there, with no one else around, I knocked on the door and met Ron. I asked him how he lives this way. He said he could show me the secret and he brought me to his basement to see his large collection of Ham Radio equipment. He showed me how to talk with somebody through his Ham Radio. The interaction of Ham Radio reminded me of Facebook and the ways we choose to reveal ourselves to other people. Interestingly, Ham Radio operators talk to each other almost every night, but not during the day. Ham Radio allows communication with voice that is publically heard by other operators. No face accompanies the voice, and it has its own unique “language.” To me, this is a genuine communication. I am inspired by an African saying, “The earth is a beehive; we all enter by the same door but live in different cells.”
By Minjin Kang