When Kathy White visited the Korean Presbyterian Church, she felt lost even though she hadn't left Anne Arundel County.
After sitting through a service without understanding a word, White, the Pascal Senior Center's satellite site coordinator, said, "I think I know what it feels like to be someone from another country. I have a sensitivity and awareness of other colors and cultures," she added.
At the suggestion of Charles Lawrence, assistant director of the county department of aging, White joined forces with leaders of the county's Korean community in May 1989 to come up with an alternative for Korean seniors who had to drive to Baltimore County, the nearest site for Korean-language programs.
By August, Korean seniors were meeting at the Korean Presbyterian Church in Glen Burnie.
Further meetings with Korean ministers and business leaders led to the formation of The Korean Satellite Senior Center, an outreach program operated by the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie and located in the Glen Burnie Improvement Association Building.
The Korean satellite is open Mondays and provides a variety of activities, including an English class, a modified dance class and lunch.
White says seniors are very intent on learning basic communication.
The satellite has 50 registered members, but only about 17 Korean seniors actively participate.
In fact, one of the few problems with the satellite center is that attendance tends to be low because many Korean seniors spend their days working in family-owned restaurants and other businesses, White said.
In December, the center plans to open on Fridays.
Hye Keun Pak, known as Jee, works with Sun Carry-Out, preparing members' Monday meals. The main staples are rice and spicy, pickled cabbage known as kimchi.
Speakers occasionally are invited to come to the center. For instance, a podiatrist recently provided free foot screenings. White said she would like to contact more doctors who can come in and speak at the center.
The language barrier sometimes causes problems, but fortunately for White, Jee is also an interpreter. "She is my right-hand lady," said White.
"We have a very good rapport with the the community. There is a willingness to open doors to senior programs," said White.