Skip to main content

A Sense of Wonder at Our Shared Path

For those of you who giggle when
I say I have to be as far away as I can
from the Google Hangout cameras
because of my big head — look at
the head size compared to my body!
By Mary Marczak, Director of Urban Family Development and Evaluation

This is a picture of me taken at age 9 at an orphanage near Seoul, South Korea. Back in the 70’s, each year, the Korean government would send one or two promising orphaned children to a school in Switzerland. These children were to live and study in Switzerland then return as adults and use their education to benefit South Korea.

I was chosen for this path one year. I remember it as a painful year of tests, shots, visits to the dentist, doctors, and more tests. Very near my departure date, I became extremely ill (blood poisoning) and by the time I recovered, I had to wait for the following year to go to Switzerland. As chance would have it, during that year I was adopted and ended up in Minnesota instead!

Flash forward about 16 years. I am in graduate school at the University of Arizona in Tucson. We had a new cohort of graduate students starting, so I decided we needed to have regular breakfast gatherings to get to know the new students. At the first of such meetings, only one other person showed up… Alexander Vazsonyi, now an endowed professor at the University of Kentucky. He told me he was from Switzerland, which of course led me to share my near miss story about almost living there.

Alex gasped in wonder and said, “My father was the headmaster at the Korean village where they sent the kids! I grew up with all the Korean students there!” We shared our breakfast in a moment of wonder... that somehow we were supposed to have connected in our life time, and something in our life paths clicked into place.

It’s been about 10 months since I transitioned to my role directing Urban Family Development. There were challenges, long days at work, and frustrations of wading through rules, system barriers, and “the way we have always done things.” But mostly? A feeling of wonder — the same kind of wonder that I shared with Alex.

These moments of wonder are constant when I am out meeting community members and agency directors and staff for a variety of reasons. “Oh, you are from the University? We have someone from the University here doing amazing work. Do you know [insert employee name here]?” Maria Theresa, Erin, Nathan, Judy, Gloria, Michael, Sharon, Roger, and on and on. And the pleasure of being able to say, “Yes I do know him/her! They do great work!”

For me, the wonder is how present our staff members are in the community and how quietly and diligently and with their unique flare are making a difference in the lives of Minnesota families. Thank you for your work. In these moments, I feel a sense of wonder… that I am where I am supposed to be and with the people I should be sharing a part of my life path.

Print Friendly and PDF