Tag Archives: Teaching in Korea

Surprises that warm the heart.

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The days keep flying and I just keep wishing I had more time.

More time to read, write, work out, bake delicious food, travel, longer weekends, drink coffee, drink tea. Drink wine with my husband. I keep finding myself wishing for more time.  Our weekends here are precious and valued time that Tom and I spend together traveling Korea and (if we are lucky) sometimes with our friends!

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…and so when Tom and I were presented with the opportunity to volunteer at an International English camp a few weeks back we debated over if we would give up our “precious time” to spend a weekend with kids after working 40 hours with kids. – We all need breaks every now and then 😉 We had heard great things about the camp and decided: “What the heck! Let’s do it.”

So, three weeks ago Tom and I went with 40 other foreign English teachers to volunteer at an International English Camp about 2 hours away from our city of Yeosu. 200 Korean middle school students in grade two (equivalent to our 8th grade in America) lined the pavement holding signs and cheering as the foreign teachers got off the bus upon arrival at camp. This was only the beginning of a fun-filled weekend teaching the kids how to cook food from our native countries, playing games/sports, doing a talent show, having a massive bonfire (fireworks were included!), stargazing, and teaching them a little about the places we originally call home.The best part about this was being able to hang out and have fun with the middle school kiddos in a normal environment! No pressure of studying. Just conversation and having fun. I have talked a bit about the pressures that the kids have in Korea to study, perform, study, perform AND repeat. If you’re interested in learning what these kids go through or just grasp an understanding of our life as teachers in Korea click here for a short 20 minute documentary! The camp was a great opportunity for us to be immersed in the culture of Korea that we so dearly love while getting to know some of the most amazing kids in a fun environment.

It was a heart warming weekend to say the least.

At the end one of the boys gave a wonderful speech that made me cry. He said the camp had given him confidence to use his English in conversation without being scared. Through all the hard days of teaching…feeling like what we are doing isn’t making a difference… that I am not teaching them enough. It’s the moments like this volunteer English camp that reminded me sometimes it’s the little moments in life that make a difference. It’s the smiles, hugs, and love. It’s the company of spending time with kids. Just getting to know them. Having the opportunity at the International camp showed me that what we are doing CAN make an impact!

The weekend we spent with the kiddos was a weekend that warmed my heart. I realized how selfish I was initially to view it as giving up “my time” when the kids had done SO much to warm my heart during our weekend together.

What things have you been doing lately (or have others done for YOU!?!)  that warm your heart?

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Confessions of a writer at heart.

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It’s been a whirlwind of a week.

Just one of those weeks when it all comes apart at the seams. I am not talking earth shattering life changes (thank goodness and knock on wood.) Whatever it was that was going on this week I think it was time for it to happen. I have been sharing SO much about how much I adore Korea. While, I do. Life isn’t always perfect. Communication falls apart due to an ever present language barrier. Expectations go unspoken because “saving face” is a big deal here AND lastly…I swear there was a full moon this week because my 3rd and 4th graders were crazy while my 5th and 6th graders were in zombie mode.

Let’s just leave it at the fact that I am really freaking happy that Friday is here.AND. I get to see these amazing friends this weekend.

I have done a lot of thinking this week. It hit me that so many of us aren’t using the talents we have been given. We keep skills/talents dormant for no other reason besides fear. A few of you have reached out and told me that I am impacting your life in a positive way through my writing. Do you know how that makes me feel? It made me feel pure joy. It also brought tears to my eyes. Yep, I am getting sappy for a moment, but hear me out.

In 5th grade my teacher wrote on one of my papers “Elicia, you write exactly how you talk. I love that.” A simple sentence. At conferences she told my mom and I the same thing she had written. Growing up my parents told me that I should be a journalist because I could write (disclaimer- They are my parents so of course they may be bias.) The thought of going to school and having to deal with grammar and editing made me sick to my stomach. I felt like it would suck the life out my creativity. If you just started reading I should tell you: I hate editing. I hate grammar. You’ll probably find multiple mistakes in my writing…and that’s ok to me. I am not perfect. Maybe deep down I was afraid my writing wasn’t as good as the next person? I was always comparing. My college speech professor once told me my biggest flaw was that I was incredibly hard on myself. I guess it makes sense. I have never been afraid to be different, but I do think I was afraid at failing if I pursued writing.

I went to school for teaching so I could help kids/families/parents. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten how much I loved to write. Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you that I am never afraid to say how I feel. It’s true. Sometimes a little too true. So I guess it makes sense that through blogging I am able to combine who I am with what I love. All while being an English teacher in Korea. When I am blogging I am combining the best and greatest of those dreams. I am being able to express how I feel or why I believe what I do. I get to share little pieces of my life with you. Most importantly I have gotten to help people. Helping people was my goal, but it’s different to get messages from real live humans who are telling you that you are impacting them in a positive way.

If someone has been inspiring you lately (a friend, family member, or even someone you have never even met) I encourage you to give them a little shout out. Cause people rock and sometimes all it takes is one person to say something to make a difference.

I am left wondering why more of us aren’t honing in on our talents and skills? Is it fear of failure? Have we forgotten to just get back to the basics?

-Happy weekend my friends.

May you find joy and spread it.

One of my favorite pictures of my 3 baby sisters and I. Pure JOY!

Life in Korea. It’s rad.

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I’m not sure when walking past a restaurant with this:

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OR this:

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became normal life to us in Korea.

It’s become our life. Yeosu is a port city. So one thing it’s known for is it’s fresh seafood. Many restaurants have tanks for live fish or other unknown sea creatures that they cook on the spot if you order it.

When did living 3 miles from the beach/ocean become our “normal?”

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When did all of the amazing hiking/camping we have done just become a normal weekend activity?

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This is my second time ever that I am breaking my "no selfie rule" but it's a thing in Korea...so I am rollin with that! Camping in September.

This is my second time ever that I am breaking my “no selfie rule” but it’s a thing in Korea…so I am rollin with that! Camping in September.

Korean hikin' photo bombing!

Korean hikin’ photo bombing. This describes the crazy adventure we are on- so perfectly. If a picture could tell a story 🙂

When did I become so incredibly fascinated with the changing colors of the leaves?

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How was it that God blessed me incredibly with a husband I love more than I ever thought I could love a human?

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So, when does something become normal? What is normal?!

Whatever it is. Please, Korea keep being our normal. I can’t get enough of these amazing adventures we are on.

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Making a difference.

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It’s been over 2 months since I last did a post on teaching, but today as I was browsing through my students notebook I stumbled upon this:

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“Full of dreams and full of hopes. I wish to convey my love to you”

I thought it was perfectly imperfect. I see TONS of wrongly written (or out of context) English on buildings/signs/shirts and school folders, but for a distinct reason this one hit home. I read it twice and let it sink in before I set the folder back into the hands of my adorable 4th grader who goes by the English name of “Kevin.”

It hit home, because one of the biggest struggles that I face teaching English in Korea is the communication barrier. Especially when it comes to discipline OR when a child is upset/frustrated. I felt like that quote was EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. It’s my students. It’s what they want to say to me… and I can almost hear them saying those words if only they knew how to speak them to me.

I look back on my previous teachers from when I was a kiddo. I can STILL name every single teacher I had starting with kindergarten. I can also still remember times when they made me feel insecure or times they built me up/ supported me.  No matter where you are or what you are doing you are a teacher. Someone is learning from you.

From the 4 weeks I taught of English summer camp this past July/August:

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To the students in my after school classes:

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The kids at my Friday “country” school:

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To even those that I now teach in my online distance learning classes (they live on remote islands):

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I can almost hear it…if they could only say it to me:

“I am full of dreams and full of hopes. I wish to convey my love to you.”

…every hug, every positive word, every smile. The most important things that I need to communicate to my students go far beyond what words could even clarify.

Be the difference today for one person.

Teaching

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You know those days or weeks when it just seems like you aren’t living up to your expectations for yourself as a teacher? Or maybe it is a day/week that you feel like you aren’t meeting the exact needs of your students.

If you are a teacher. You know exactly what I mean.

And then…

Something small (like this) makes it all worth it.