February 12th I landed in Incheon airport with my entire life stuffed into two oversized suitcases. Now those suitcases sit pushed into a corner in my utility room holding my no longer wearable winter clothes.
The past five months have been both the fastest and the longest of my life. I still remember landing in Incheon and hanging out with my buddies in Seoul before I started teaching. I still remember the first day at school and what it felt like to be the lone ambassador of my country and my language.
I remember those things like they happened yesterday. But in way they also feel like a lifetime ago. Students who were once just one of 700 nameless faces are now kids who I look forward to seeing everyday. I know their personalities, their speaking level, and which Kpop bands they like. Each of their names are like little treasures to me that I’ve worked hard for and cherish.
I know my writing can come off a little cheesy, overly sentimental, and maybe even pretentious sometimes. But please know that’s not my intention. If it sounds ridiculous to you, don’t worry it’s equally as ridiculous to me also. I never anticipated the depth of emotion I could have for these kids. I admire them, I laugh with them, and they teach me (in the very raw way that middle schoolers do) about this new country and culture that I get to be a part of.
And while my life, and my school, and my students here are not perfect I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is my life, my school and that they are my students. If you’ve followed this blog for a while you might know that I tried to come to Korea once before. A semester earlier. There was a time that I was convinced that I had to live in Seoul and I was devastated when the possibility of that reality came to a close.
But now I know. That my school on the top of the hill, with the steep stairs and colorful walls, was waiting for me. My co-workers who help give me the energy I need to get through the longer days were meant for me. And my students from the little ones in grade 1 and the giants in grade 3, although they could have been anyone’s, they are mine.
This school has existed without me, and will continue to exist in my absence. They don’t need me. Instead it is my privilege to be with them for however long I have. To do my best, love as many students as possible, and hopefully be an example of the fact that foreigners are people too.
I am not the greatest teacher in the world, in fact I’m not really even a great teacher. But I am thankful to be here where I get to try. I hope that each new semester will bring with it new challenges to help me grow, new joys to help keep me going, and new memories that I will bury deep in my heart to carry with me forever.
Sorry but not sorry for the cheesiness. It’s been a good 5 months. Here’s hoping for another. Thanks for reading!