Obviously I haven't been good about blogging while in Korea. I was incredibly busy and I generally stopped blogging or journaling altogether.
Well, as of March 11, 2018, I am back in the states. Initially I was going to say that I'm back 'home' but I'm not sure what that is right now. Korea still feels like my home even though I have no plans to return. New Zealand feels like my home even though I haven't been there in a few years. America is the place where I was born and have spent most of my life, so naturally it is my home. But honestly, I am a combination of those 3 places. They are all my home because my life was shaped and changed in all of them.
As I sit here waiting to buy tickets for the ever so sought after Hamilton musical, I realize that I miss writing. I'm a bit rusty and my grammar is horrendous but I love writing. I have bits and pieces of stories in notebooks, computer documents, and on my phone. I even have a half-finished novel that I started during NANOWRIMO a few years ago. While I'm taking a break from working, I really want to get back into writing. Think of this entry as a first step.
There is a strange thing that happens every couple of weeks or so, usually after church. It goes like this: I would have a good weekend and a good time of worship on Sunday. And then, right as I'm leaving church...BOOM! I would crash. I would be overcome by thoughts of worthlessness and loneliness. Or homesickness. And these feelings would attack me like some horribly untamed beast, ripping at my heart and pulling me into a very real battle that I am not prepared for.
It has happened so often over the past few months that it should not come as a surprise to me but it almost always does. My guard is down because it's the weekend and I feel safe. The spiritual battle is most intense at this time because I am not ready for it. When this happens I would usually go to Starbucks.
At this point you're probably wondering why I don't just go home and deal with it there, or call a friend to hang out. Sometimes I do go home, but other times I think I need to be somewhat around others so that I am not isolated and so stuck in my own head. And as for hanging out with people, that has happened too, many times, but it wouldn't solve the underlying problem: my need to be close to Christ.
Ok. Back to Starbucks...
I order my regular Chai Tea Latte or Iced Chai, head upstairs, and grab a seat by the window and try to figure out why I feel so down all of the sudden. I would pull out my notebook and write down exactly how I feel, usually as a prayer to God or in the form of a drawing.
And the tears would come.
The hidden and suppressed stresses and feelings of the past week pour down my face. 'Why do I feel like I have failed in everything that I have ever done? Why do I feel so lonely and hopeless? Why am I not married? Am I worthless? Why am I so unsure about everything? What is going on with my health? What am I doing in Korea?'
I know the cause of a few of the those questions...and a partial reason as to why some of those feelings usually come on Sunday instead of other days of the week but I'm not going to divulge that information in a very public blog. 😜
Anyway, the hours I spend at Starbucks are great. I sit in a place that feels like home (America) and drink my favorite drink. I read. I pray. I write. I draw. And I listen to the desires of my heart and to God's voice. It's a time of real personal reflection.
And the best part is that God meets me there, glad that I have finally stopped my busyness long enough to see the pain in my own heart and my need for Him.
Work has been fun. My kids have been growing in their English ability. They keep me busy. They're lovely. I'm also taking two online courses at the moment, leading a Bible Study, singing on the worship team, and heading up an event at school. Oh, and I'm reading the Bible in 90 days...I'm on Jeremiah. I started at the end of June. You do the math. Oh and I started working out, want to paint again, and want to play my guitar that has been sitting and collecting dust for 5 months now. So I thought, maybe, just maybe I should write a blog entry. Hmm... That's all I can squeeze out. Till next time.
Anyway, I arrived in my class today with another student gone. For good. I guess his parents wanted to enroll him in a different English kindergarten. Okay. But why can't we say goodbye?! And again, I was not told until I asked my students after noticing his books were gone. Yikes!
Being a teacher at a private school in South Korea can be difficult sometimes. I shouldn't be surprised. Last year students came and went all the time at my evening hagwon. Kindergarten has actually been better about it. Some kids leave, but most stay.
It will never be easy for me to say goodbye, especially when you don't actually get the chance to say 'goodbye', but I'll survive.
Here's wishing you a great life, Tyler! May your new school treat you well and enjoy your company as much as I have! May they appreciate your goofy humor and give you the time needed to flourish in in English.
One of my students was missing today. Well, not actually, 'missing,' per se. Everyone else knew where she was. But her books and everything were gone as though she never existed. I asked the other students where she was and in very broken English and cute little voices they told me that she was not coming back. I went to my co-teacher and was told that it was sudden, but that everyone else knew she was leaving at the end of the month and that she'd just left one week earlier than they thought. It's funny how everyone discussed it, yet failed to tell me, her teacher.
I remember, last Friday, when this student told me that she would be gone on Monday and Tuesday. In hindsight, she was probably trying to tell me that she was leaving. I just didn't understand at the time.
I'm sad to lose any of my students. This student in particular was one of my lowest level students when we first began and she improved so much in just a few months. Well, I hope that things go well for her.
I haven’t been much of a blogger lately. I’m not really sure why. I guess life happened and I didn’t really feel like writing about it. No worries though. My journal writing has suffered too.
You can just call this my attempt at continuing this…whatever it is.
Since my last entry…a lot has happened. Not gonna recap much.
My first year in Korea was fine, teaching elementary and middle school students. It was fun and I had a blast but the hours were late. I usually didn’t get home until 11pm. After that year was over, I finally went back to New Zealand to visit friends and ended the 6 year hiatus. I also went home for the holidays and was able to see family and friends, and also managed to get sick 3 times!
Now, in 2015, I am back in the land of Kimchi and teaching at a kindergarten in Daegu. My school isn’t perfect but I love my students and I love teaching this age.
A typical day? Well…my schedule is a bit varied when compared to the 8 other North American teachers at my school. While they all have an English kindergarten class and their own classroom to decorate and field trips, I sit in an office with Korean teachers, my stuff heaped up on my desk and on the window sill behind me. I’m a bit of a traveling teacher/substitute when someone is sick or on vacation. When I first found this out, I was a little annoyed, but I got over myself, with God’s intervening of course. After all, my schedule is pretty open. It’s doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard, just that I have a few more breaks than the others.
My school is located in a 6-story building. The first floor houses the reception area, some interview rooms, a play area, and a small gym. The 2nd floor is the Korean kindergarten. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th, floors are dedicated to the English kindergarten, and hold the 8 classrooms that the other foreign teachers teach at. Each floor has a small library, bathrooms, and an office. The 6th floor is the big gym/music room/special events room. There is a music teacher and a gym teacher who come in once a week. My office is on the 4th floor with the principle and the head Korean teacher and random other co-teachers who float in and out. I sit with my back to a window which means it’s cold in the winter and probably hot in the summer, but at my desk only. For some reason, the heater/aircon goes right over my head to reach the rest of the office. Ha!
I teach two 30 minute English classes, three times a week at the Korean kindergarten in my school. In the afternoon, I teach the same students in an English kindergarten setting for about 1.5 hours, everyday. I have 2 afternoon kindy classes of about 8 students each, 3 times a week (ie Class 1: M,W, TH, and Class 2: T, W, F). Since they overlap on Wednesdays, we have a combined class of 15 students! On Wednesdays and Thursdays I also have three 20 minute storytelling classes of young 3-6 year olds at another Korean kindergarten campus that’s about 10 minutes away. On Fridays I have a 30 minute Storytelling class for the preschoolers on the 2nd floor Korean kindergarten. Whew! See, I told you it was varied! All in all, on my busiest day (WED) I teach 3 classes for a total of 3.5 hours. On my lightest day (TUE) I teach 1 class for 90 minutes. It’s spread out. So, not much to complain about. I’m ahead of schedule on most things.
During afternoon kindy we cover 3 subjects; Phonics, Reading, and Writing. I have a Korean co-teacher, but she's usually gone during most of the class. These kids are beginner level students of about 5-6 years old (though I suspect some of my kids are 4). I love these kids! They’re well behaved for the most part and they know my rules and what I expect, even though most of it was initially communicated with pictures and gestures. They also get super excited about getting a sticker if they earn 5 stars by the end of class. They have grown so much in the almost 3 months that I have been teaching them! Many of them are really beginning to put sounds together into words and starting to read. It’s exciting.
I don’t know what God’s plans are for me later, but I really feel like I was made to teach young kids. If you've ever seen me around young kids, you know that I have a gift with them. I don’t know how or why, but I call it my ‘pied piper’ affect. I come home from work exhausted, but happy. I have so much fun with my students and oddly enough, they all like me too. Even the kids that I have substituted for a short time and barely know. Even the kids that I don’t know but they are excited about me because their friends are excited. You can always hear excited yells of “Hello Cara Teacher!!” from students whenever I enter a room or elevator. And more often than not, I’m getting smothered by hugs regularly.