This month I said goodbye to my church family, colleagues, students, and friends in Seoul. I am grateful for the generosity of Reverend Kim and the congregation of Seongam church. Seongam church community has been like my second home here in Korea. I have had so much fun getting to know the congregation, especially the Youth Group. I loved my job at the Dream Tree Keeper Care Center and each of the children in my group. It was such a symbiotic relationship, with us practicing the other’s language and learning about their culture. Finally, I will miss my new friends in Seoul. I have grown close to the “GAK” group of international mission workers who met weekly. Hyeong and Kurt have been there for us, teaching, guiding, and helping us for the past six months; I will miss seeing them.
Kate and I moved from Seoul to the southern tip of Korea to Gangjin. Here, I will live and work at Neutbom (“Late Spring”) Moon Ik-hwan School, an alternative high school. While here, I will be teaching conversational English; I will also be learning from the students. The school is located in the countryside; we are surrounded by mountains, very different from Seoul’s cityscape. We were given a tour of the Moon Ik-hwan School, a boarding school where students study for three weeks and then have one week off.
We hit the ground running, with our first-class taking place the day after we arrived. I was teaching the 18-year-olds (5th graders) conversational English. In the beginning, many of the students were shy and cautious about speaking in English. I understand their trepidation; I moved to a foreign country and was afraid to make a mistake or offend someone while trying to speak their language. I know how difficult and exhausting it is to speak a foreign language; we will all be learning together. Kate and I also teach a joint class in the afternoon.
This past week, the students were on break, and most of them traveled home for the week. We have taken this opportunity to explore the surrounding area; some of the students who stayed during the break joined us. We took a trip into the closest village and hiked to the top of the mountain to visit the Buddhist temple. We also traveled to the neighboring city of Haenam, and were able to visit with our friend Abby.
Unfortunately, this week, some students have tested positive for COVID. Due to this outbreak, the school has canceled classes for an additional week and told the students not to return to campus. The remaining staff and students, plus Kate and I, are all in quarantine. I feel fine, but I’m going a little stir crazy; hopefully, we will get through this soon and back to normal.
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