Six Months in Korea

As of this weekend, I will have been in South Korea for six months.  The time seems to be going slowly, but that's simply a matter of perspective, I suppose.  I would rather be in the states, but this beats starving and there have been enjoyable moments.

The latter (enjoyable moments) have especially been with the students.   I have nothing but the greatest admiration and affection for them.  And it shows in their response to me.  I've even had fellow teachers here at English Village tell me, "Mark, those kids just love you."   Yesterday, when this week's college students left, there was an awful lot of hugging and picture-taking (and that's common every week), as, even in the few short days they are here, special bonds are built in ways that never happens in America.  Or rarely so.  This is simply the nature of these people, especially young people.  They are far more "innocent" than American kids are.  The kids here are sweet, thoughtful, and family-oriented.  The Koreans aren't perfect, of course, and sometimes they try my patience (at least the little ones do), and their politicians can be just as corrupt, prideful, and incompetent as any in the world.  But that isn't what I've experienced in the first six months I've been here.

It's just in my nature, I suppose, to care.  Nearly all of the students come to English Village by bus, and when they leave on Friday (or Thursday, as in the case of yesterday), I'm always down at the gate to see them off.  And I'm usually the only teacher who does so.  Indeed, I had one Korean teacher comment on it (a middle-school teacher who had come to help take the children home).  She said, "You are down here and all the other teachers are not here."  When one of my co-workers made the comment I noted above ("Mark, those kids just love you"), she also asked, "How do you do it?"  I didn't have the heart to tell her, "Well, where are you when the kids get on their buses and go home on Friday?"  I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, though it may sound like I'm doing so.  I simply don't know any other way to teach or act.  Frankly, it probably isn't helping my depression any, to get attached to people who are leaving soon and who I'll probably never see again.  But again, I don't know any other way to be.

As I said, I'd rather be in America, simply because my family is there and I'd feel a little better with being able to communicate in situations where that might be necessary (doctor's appointments, for example).  But I'm where I am at the moment for reasons only the Lord knows; I'll do the best I can for these folks until He sees fit to send me someplace else.  My contract here ends in six months; it can be extended upon mutual agreement.  Whether that will happen or not, I do not know.  I only know that, all things considered, I could do a whole lot worse than I'm doing here, at least, job-wise.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the best of holiday seasons.