Sunday, November 30, 2014

Belated Thanksgiving 2014 / Sunday morning reflections

This week's been up and down. Most of it comes from feeling homesick because it's Thanksgiving today. As I explained to the students this week, Thanksgiving is quite like the Korean Chuseok holiday: It's a time for families to gather and enjoy spending time together. It also focuses on being thankful for what you have. And what you have isn't so much what you possess as it is about intangible things like family, love, and friendship.

I got to see Dave Sperling of Dave's ESL Cafe speak in Daejeon yesterday. He said, "You're living the lives you want.  You're in Korea, after all." A wave of happiness went through me when he said that, for it's something that, obvious though it is, I sometimes forget that coming to Korea was about more than taking a job. Coming here meant learning a new culture and leaving home. It meant getting--and using--a passport for the first time. And it meant having to keep an open mind about things.

Sometimes one needs to hear the obvious. Living and teaching here is what I want to do. What other explanation exists for having signed a fourth contract? At another point, Dave said, "If I'd known [doing Dave's ESL Cafe] would be so hard, I wouldn't have done it." Not me. If I had known in August 2011 that the next three years would mean traveling all around this peninsula and Asia, meeting countless wonderful people, feeling better and worse than ever, and becoming a better teacher, then yes, I would've done it. Korea continues to be a wonderful time. Some days go better than others. Living as an expatriate is a full time job. But even so, it's the best I've ever had.

I'd like to give thanks to
  • Family. Words fail to express the importance of family. I miss all of you very much.
  • Friends. I've met friends from around the world here and that probably wouldn't have happened--not to this extent, anyway--if I hadn't gotten on that plane. You know who you are. Thanks for being here and for all the things you've mentioned about your home countries. 
  • The students. The Korean school system pushes them to the limit, but they keep coming back for more. The longer I stay here, the more I feel for them. I often wonder how I feel in their shoes.
  • Coteachers. Thanks for all of your help with understanding the school system and teaching our classes.
  • Planes, planes, and automobiles. Korea has an excellent transportation system. One can go anywhere at nearly any time.
  • Anyone who comes here and reads this blog.
This will be my final Thanksgiving in Korea. It's getting to be time for me to move on, for some educational and work opportunities have come up in the USA. The final Dispatches from Gangwon will come in August of 2015.


Though I'm not Southern, this song's a favorite for what it says about the USA and how we should try to preserve nature.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - All I Can Do Is Write About It

Actually, though it's about the USA, those lines about "the concrete slowly creeping" apply to Korea as well? Other than Shin Joong-hyun's legendary "Beautiful Mountains and Rivers"? 


Previous posts about Thanksgiving

#1: Happy Thanksgiving! 2011.

* Ironically, Thanksgiving signals the start of the crazed Christmas shopping season. And Black Friday and its sales are on the next day. Strange.


Last, but not least, thanks to Cal and J for being here in 2013-2014. Rock on!

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