So much has happened that I hope to just make a quick list of major highlights so I can stay up to date from now on!
Saturday, July 26th – Activity Weekend
- Worked with a team of Fulbrighters to coordinate a 2 hour field day for campers. It was another great opportunity to interact with the students and understand how to effectively communicate and teach.
July 28th – August 3rd
- Second day of teaching – I worked with a group of rock star students. It was a great experience! The theme was WE SEE and I taught about the differences between observation and perceptions. Students feedback was really helpful. They enjoyed the lesson for the most part, but commented that I was still talking too quickly (and they made the suggestion I knew I needed to rework things and that the subject was totally something they never learned so it made it interesting, but hard at the same time).
- Placement Ceremony – I was feeling pretty calm, but mostly excited going into the ceremony. Ms. Shim the Executive Director of the Korean American Educational Commission spoke wisely at the podium reminding each of us that we were chosen for our placements for a reason. Her words struck me because despite how much effort and care the office exerts in the placement decision I realized the reason for us being at our schools and in our communities is dependent on us to find and discover. My name was called towards the end and by then the butterflies were in full effect. I wasn’t nervous about the decision because I was confident in my ability to make my own purpose I was most anxious and curious about the people who would be joining me along the adventure. I made a few close friends and I really wanted to stay near some of them. And thankfully when my name was called and I saw that I was in the same province with friendly faces I was elated in happiness. I was placed in the Jeollanamodo province in a techincal high school in Naju. I didn’t why then, but I felt that this placement was where I was suppose to be.
- Camp Fulbright closing ceremony – We had the chance to see students final presentations and several student perform speeches and poetry on stage. It was amazing to see what all the students accomplished and learned in the short time span.
- Temple Stay – I spent the weekend with my peers at a temple stay. We arrived and we were greeted with such warmth and kindness by everyone and we quickly entered the monastery routine, learning to mediate and properly bow for prays and chants. The weekend was nostalgic of the short Zen Retreat I attended at Elon and reminded me of the importance of being present and taking time to get out of your routine and doing something different.
Tuesday, August 12th – Korean Final
- This final was on everyone’s mind. I dedicated hours to studying and sitting in office hours and review trying to absorb as much as I could. Despite how poor my grades were I felt like I was walking away from the Korean class finally at ground zero. I know this sounds strange to say, but I have always had such a strong aversion to language I think somewhat I sabotaged myself from ever learning. But I left this class realizing how vital it is to learn the language and recognizing if I hope to truly connect with the community, language is a necessity. Ultimately, the final was really difficult for me and there were parts that just went over my comprehension, but it was still cool to think how six weeks ago I didn’t even know how to spell my own name in Korean.
- Night out with 선상임. Being a part of Class B this orientation was one of my luckiest moments because not only did I have an awesome class who was supportive, encouraging and fun, but our teachers were amazing and some of the most thoughtful people I had ever met. So after later that night I neglected my desire to sleep and went out with my class and teachers for a game of bowling and hanging out and it was totally worthwhile.
Thursday, August 14th – Sunday, August 17th – Seoul Weekend
Thursday we left close to 5:30am. Many of us were dragging are feet just waiting to fall back to sleep, but Seoul was worth the lost of sleep. We arrived in the city to first attend our graduation and perform our skits we had been practicing. Our class worked really hard and created a short video and skit thanks to some key rockstars. It was so fun to see everyone’s skit and I was so proud of our final product. I will post our video once I have the link. I also thought graduation was special because it was one of the last times we were going to see our teachers (but because we didn’t like goodbyes we made plans to meet up for dinner all together). Lastly, graduation turned to have a big surprise for me, when I received one of two most outstanding effort awards. I was totally shocked and felt so overwhelming loved when I heard the applause. It was my peers’ support, applause, and genuine happiness for me that helped me see how close we all had become. Because I want to head to bed – I am going to wrap this up and say a lot of great memories happened in Seoul, but by far my favorite was Friday brunch! I shared blueberry pancakes, apple cinnamon french toast, bacon, and a cinnamon bun with Deanna and Shaina. Not only had I gone without an American breakfast for a month, but it was one of the best breakfasts I had ever had. And on top of all that Seijin ordered our table chilly cheese fries which I now can say I officially like and I was missing out for years. Oh! And I almost to mention that on Saturday Hwacheon Army Observatory Tour and saw the DMZ.