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Smith: Ferry tragedy felt in Santa Rosa's sister city

  • Chris Smith

Our hearts go out to South Korea’s gorgeous but anguished Jeju Island, home to one of Santa Rosa’s sister cities and intended destination of the ferry that sank Wednesday with more than 300 high-school students on board.

The teens were headed joyfully for a four-day visit to Jeju Island, a garden spot often praised as the Hawaii of Korea.

Today many of their parents wait in sheer horror as an army of divers attempts to get to the nearly 300 missing passengers.

You may have read the heartbreaking remark of Chung Hae-sook, whose 16-year-old son is among the missing. “There is no tomorrow for this. My heart is turning to ashes.”

The tragedy comes as Santa Rosa is deepening its relationship with the city and island of Jeju. A contingent of Korean visitors came to town in February for special events that accompanied the opening of “Camellia Has Fallen: Contemporary Korean Artists Reflect on the Jeju Uprising.”

It’s the first exhibition outside of Korea of art inspired by the wave of killings and destruction of villages on Jeju that occurred between World War II and the Korean war.

The Jeju exhibit is still at the Santa Rosa museum and will remain there through May 4.

HER ANKLE HURT as 14-year-old Ava Woods of Santa Rosa set off for London and the Irish Dance World Championships — the Olympics of this high-energy, athletic art form.

“Literally, the night before she left she was practicing and she rolled her ankle terribly,” said her dad, Marty.

Ava, who attends St. Eugene’s Cathedral School, kept the injury to herself and tried not to limp.

Now comes word from the 44th Irish dance championships, the first ever held in England, that Ava’s eight-girl team placed 10th in the world in its division.

And these Bay Area girls, who practice many hours every week and attend Dillon Magh Adhair Academy of Irish Dance in Walnut Creek, outscored every other U.S. team. That makes them the best at their age in America.

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