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  • Writer's pictureChippewa Valley Equality Initiative

AAPI Heritage Month Community Spotlight - Sarah Ohr

Sarah Ohr is an accomplished harpist, located in Eau Claire, WI. She identifies as a Korean American Adoptee.

Photo Credit: Mark Oliver

In her own words.....

Musical Success

It has been difficult for me to define what success is for myself. My immediate thought, was CD’s, tours, or big venues and festivals. I haven’t accomplished those goals, yet. My initial goals and motivation for learning and performing harp was to get paid, and to make the harp accessible to more audiences. I have accomplished both of those goals. I am a gigging musician. Currently, I mainly play at weddings, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. With a bachelor’s in music therapy, I wanted to play for vulnerable populations and people that may not be able to seek out live music. Since 2018, I have also been performing at open mic’s in the Chippewa Valley area. It’s been a blast. Audiences have very much enjoyed it. I don’t notice it, but I’ve been told that people stop talking and start listening when I play. I mainly perform with my acoustic harp. It is lighter and less expensive than my pedal harp.

Photo Credit: Taylor Smith

My goal for this year, is to perform on the Electric Acoustic pedal harp with effects. I also hope to put out a CD and to include other local musicians. Through lessons, I am preparing myself for bigger venues.

Personal life

My biggest accomplishment in my personal life was returning to and living in South Korea. I had the opportunity to teach English in South Korea in 2012 – 2013 through the program E.P.I.K. As a Korean-American adoptee, I always wanted to learn more about where I was born and to explore that part of me. When I share that experience with others, I always explain the experience as a “learning experience.” I struggled a lot while I was there. In Korea, I was to American/Foreign, and in America I’m often seen as Asian first, American second. I also caught the travel bug while living in Gwangju, South Korea. I have traveled to Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and spent 18 hours in the Dubai Airport.

The person I am today, is due to all of my losses and also the gains.

I lost a country and my relationship with my biological family. I gained a country and a new family.

After each rape, I lost the person who I was going to be. Today, I have gained Lah Lah (I'll introduce her when I fully understand her). Currently I can describe her as the alter ego to the pretty and put-together haprist. Lah Lah is confident, sexy, and slowly finding her voice.

The rapists also stole a dream of mine. I had hopes one day playing at Carnegie Hall as a concert pianist. I have gained my 2nd love, my harps, and all we have to offer each other.

I have lost my adoptive father. Although I felt his loss at his passing, I felt his absence more as a father, when he failed to show up in my life. I gained an admiration for single fathers and their love for their kids. I admit, sometimes I'm envious of the love they have for their kids.

Due to having cervical cancer, I had a hysterectomy, and lost the ability to have children. Although I never wanted children, the hysterectomy affirmed that would never happen. I gained money due to having a critical care insurance at work, which helped me afford my electric acoustic harp, which further nurtured my emotional healing.

My final and most recent loss, my brother. I gained a closer relationship with my nephew's family and their love, but I also gained an unwanted feeling. Hate towards my brother's killer. I struggle to know what to do with it. Wait, I did gain fully emotional healing from my rapes and not having a single flashback in the last 3 years. I thought I was going to therapy to help me grieve my brother. Little did I know that I would finally work through my rapes that had happened 14 years earlier.

I guess my message in this, is that we all lose things, and people we love in life. Some more traumatically than others. But if you're slightly patient with yourself (which, I'm not - ask my therapist from 2019. I asked him, "Tell me what I need to do to heal, and how long it'll take.") you might also find what you've gained due to your loss.

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