Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

School Newspaper Article, Take 3

September10

The school asked me again (last minute, again) to write an article for the school newspaper. When I asked what it should be about, they said “my summer vacation.” When I expressed concern because I had already told all of the students about my vacation and shown pictures, they said that since my vacation was so interesting surely there must be something else I could talk about. Um. So here’s an article about friendship? It’s corny, but I think it gets the idea across?

“Hello everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying the start of a new semester. You are now halfway through the year and soon will graduate, become third graders, or become second graders. Even though you had a short vacation, I hope you were able to have some R&R!

During the summer I went to America for a month, and I was struck by how familiar and unfamiliar everything was. I’m sure you felt the same when you visited your homes. When you see all of your old middle school friends they at first seem like the same people you knew before, but they have had different experiences from you, and over time things change. You can still be close, and your shared memories are still precious, but most of your recent memories don’t include them. I’m sure physical things changed too – maybe your favorite restaurant in your hometown has closed, or has switched owners. Perhaps in the time that you were in Changpyeong your family changed apartments, or even the geography of your area changed.

The highlight of my summer vacation was attending my best friend’s wedding. It was very strange for me. We had gone to high school together, and spent four years attending the same classes, the same school events, and participating in the same extracurricular activities. Then we went to separate colleges, and he stayed in America while I went to Korea. It was odd at how different our lives have turned out, but also strange at how close we still are. Though I have not lived in America for over two years, and we had not been able to spend any time together, he still asked me to give a speech at his wedding.

There is a Korean saying that I really enjoy – “”When it’s ten years, even the rivers and mountains change.” I think that this is very true. In the two years that I have lived in Changpyeong the 떡집 [the store that makes and sells rice cakes] moved, a few new restaurants opened, and the 태관도 [Taekwondo] studio was renovated. Who knows what will happen to this town in ten years? For one thing, many of us won’t be here, and Changpyeong High School will have new students, teachers, and administrative workers. Nevertheless, there is an English expression with the opposite meaning – “to stand the test of time.” This means that though rivers, mountains, and 떡집s [rice cake store] may change, certain things will remain the same forever. Though some of the roads I drove on in Virginia were unfamiliar, and some of my friendships changed, against all odds this old friendship lasted and I was able to speak at my old friend’s wedding. Regardless of what happens during this semester, know that as you study, make new friends, visit your hometown during vacation, and make new memories, some things will change and others will stand the test of time.”

posted under School, Travel

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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.