Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea



Club class was cancelled today, so I was sitting at my desk with plenty of extra time when one of my favorite students, EC, came over. EC and I have a great relationship. Unfortunately, what I wrote about her last year still holds true; she’s being pushed way too hard by her father and other teachers, but for right now she’s doing okay. Actually, she’s doing more than okay – she got the top score out of the entire second grade on the mock test. Academically she’s swell, but I still worry.

EC and I have a notebook exchange going on right now. She keeps a journal where she writes about various subjects, and I edit it and sometimes write short letters back. In that journal I taught her the expression “burning the candle at both ends” and cautioned her to makes sure she gets enough rest.

She dropped by my desk with a can of plum juice. A handwritten note and a tiny purple flower were taped to the can.


“달개비 – (닭의장풀)

It’s name was derived from the fat that it usually grows in a nearby henhouse. 닭의 – a chicken’s, 장 – cage, 풀 – weed.

닭의 -> 달괴 -> 달개

I happened to recognize this flower’s name few days ago and it was a really cool experience. Before knowing the name, I regarded it as a weed. It didn’t mean something special for me. never did it. However, the only fact that I recognize the name of it changed my mind and made me repeat it’s name, 달개비, 달개비, 달개비… now I believe that knowing something’s name has power that makes somebody think of it and attracts others to remember itself. I’m glad that I know not only your name but also how you’re nice, wonderful, and important to me.”

While reading this, I started to tear up in the teacher’s office. As a teacher, you come to terms with the fact that you are probably way more attached to your students than they are to you. I look back on my time in elementary, middle, and high school, and I feel guilty about how I didn’t recognize how much work my teachers did for me. I know I was a good student, and I know teachers liked me, and while I liked them I rarely ever interacted with them outside of the classroom on purpose. It’s always wonderful when a student reaches out to you.

posted under Cute Stories, School

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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.