I can’t tell you why you should or shouldn’t teach in Korea. Just as I cannot tell you everyone should go to college or study abroad in college, I cannot say that someone who isn’t traveling isn’t “truly experiencing life”.
In our own ways, we are all living life and our experiences are all anomalies and our entire lives, fleeting moments in the continuum of time. The mosaic of us is that which makes us beautiful. We are uniquely broken pieces that alone have unfulfilled potential, but together, we make something whole and indescribable. We need each other.
I’ve been busy lately. Not with tasks or events or trips. I’ve been busy being immersed in the moments. I’ve been busy absorbing every laugh, every tear, every hug, and every emotion. Part of me fears that if I don’t regularly record my experiences, that I’ll forget the memories I most wanted to keep. Good memories are fantastic. I’ve laughed more than I ever hoped to deserve and I’ve seen wondrous things in the world and I’ve known privilege, comfort, and love. Yet, I’ve also felt things I wish I could forget and I’ve cried tears that have changed me, and those things are equally important parts of what makes me, me.
I fear that in true vulnerability, my honesty will both expose me and isolate me. Nevertheless, the people who matter will find a way to stay, and I couldn’t imagine living a life of insincerity. I am done justifying my choices to others and more importantly, I’m done justifying them to myself.
Recently, as I entered one of my classes, one of my new favorite students sweetly asked me, “Teacher, may you help me, please.” That says it all to me. I’ve only ever wanted to help. Just today, I was taking a slow route to work on Babs, my gorgeous bike, when I realized I had extra time and decided to stop in the park to sit and look at the cherry blossoms. Not long after sitting down, the Korean man and woman having a makeshift picnic, complete with music, offered me a cup of makgeolli, a delicious Korean drink made from wheat and rice. This man’s simple English was both comical and hospitable and although it may not be entirely kosher to have three cups of Makgeolli an hour before work, I got to taste the best homemade kimchi of my life and had some great laughs with some Incheon locals. There’s nothing else to it than the sweet kindness (and curiosity) of a stranger.
I hope you find kindness wherever you are, and that you smile and laugh with someone you love today.