2009 was once of the most exciting years in my life and one full of many exciting changes and profound personal developments. I decided to leave my home, family and friends behind in America and travel halfway around the world to begin my new career as an English teacher. I took the summer off to attend the London Rare Book School, conduct historical research in England and Scotland and to spend time with my extended family as part of the International Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh. By the end of August I found myself in Youngyang, South Korea, eager to begin my new teaching assignment at Il-wol Elementary School.
I wasn’t really sure what was expected of me at first and as a new teacher I was very nervous about exactly how I would handle a class full of children who spoke little English. In particular I was scared about having to teach the after-school program at the two branch schools as I knew I wouldn’t have the safety of the textbook to use. With the encouragement of Miss Woo, I was able to think of the various themes that needed to be explored and also saw that I was worrying too much about details instead of just relaxing and enjoying the time with the children.
In September I started teaching at the YES Center and was grateful for the opportunity to meet English teachers from the other schools. They helped me understand the way things are done here and reassured me that they all went through the same awkward adjustments. They were also very helpful in showing me how to do things like paying bills, getting a taxi and taking a bus. Harry Tritt and his wife took me on one of their trips to Daegu and showed me how to get around by bus and subway.
As the year draws to a close, I am happy with my decision to change careers and experience a new culture. I have adjusted to the different foods, picked up a little vocabulary, and made many new friends.