I've never been a fan of Thanksgiving. Actually, Brooklyn 99's Jake Peralta sum's it up quite nicely:
But hey I guess whoever knows me IRL (and actually cares--hi mom!) is wondering how I'm faring the oncoming holiday season. Thanksgiving actually came early for me this year because I'd--sort of--celebrated Chuseok. Before going on break all the way back in September, I'd made hand-turkeys with my students and made all those comparisons between Korean and American Thanksgiving.
I'd even made my own hand-turkey, went hiking, and thought about how thankful I was for the legs that carried me up the mountain, for the opportunity I've had to see this much of the world already.
So what now? In Korea at least, November 22nd finished with little fanfare. I went to work. I planned a week's worth of lesson's for Winter Camp and calculated the cost of some materials. I didn't wake up to the smell of spanakopita baking, but I'd barely noticed the missing food when I'd crawled out of bed that morning anyway.
"I hate Thanksgiving!"
"I wish we could skip straight to Christmas!"
"Seriously, it's the worst holiday anyway!"
"...but yo we're still gunna get everyone together for like a dinner right?"/"Friendsgiving is going to be a thing, though."/"But like...we're gunna eat."
I've been so lucky to have met the people I have so far, to have built the friendships that made and continue to make my time in Korea all the more wonderful. While bemoaning our shared hatred of Thanksgiving we, of course, planned a Friendsgiving gathering. So yeah...let's talk about what I'm thankful for I guess.
In researching Korea, I'd scoured every blog you could imagine, reading horror stories and nonstop dream-land fantasies about this mountainous, coffee-shop-paradise, Kpop lala land. (Please--for all of Korea's good times--read the sarcasm in that last sentence.)
Most of the horror stories discussed cultural-conflict. The nonstop-dream-land fantasies nearly all about concerts, too-many-nights with too-many-bottles-of-soju, and monthly adventures out of town.
By all means, I've got posts queued up about my second Seoul trip, my traipsing up mountains every Autumn Sunday, my Halloweekend Fireworks Festival, my cringe-y K-pop-loving self at a Busan Music Festival...and there's the things I don't like, too. The things that remind me I'm not from here (and that's okay).
But let's talk about school. Let's talk about the good, the bad, and the make-your-heart-so-full. Let's talk about how you may have stumbled into education, unsure whether you belonged here. Let's talk about how you might still not be sure, but how much you desperately want to give these kids the quality education they deserve.
Let's talk about the way they look at you--the foreign teacher whose class they know they can sleep through . Let's talk about the 사랑합니다s that inexplicably follow you in your girls' school, and all the rowdy middle school boys who bang on your classroom window to wave hello, even if they glare daggers at you during class.
Let's talk about co-teachers you can never feel quite so relaxed around, and co-workers who shyly say a "See you next week!" Let's talk about it all, because it is, after all, why you were brought here in the first place.
Pedagogy and Reflection
We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience