Today was my last day of teaching as a Fulbright ETA and at Gakri Middle School. I feel so grateful for this experience–trying to process the end of this chapter and the beginning of the next. Thank you, Ochang. Thank you Korea. Most of all, thank you students. You’re kind, enthusiastic, and unforgettable.
It’s American Thanksgiving and I’m in a small town in South Korea. I can honestly say that throughout the now over 4 months that I’ve been in Korea, I have felt far less homesickness than I expected. While there have been occasional bouts of loneliness and isolation, both mentally from culture shock and physically from being far from ETA friends and family, the majority of my time here has been stimulating and enjoyable.
Mulling over the past year, without any cheesiness implied, there is a lot to be thankful for. Over my final year at Pitzer I forged a wonderful group of friends. I graduated from college. And, of course, I was given the opportunity to teach Korean students conversational English and American culture on this Fulbright Fellowship.
Today is bittersweet. While there is a lot for me to be grateful for, it is moments like this when I want to share my experience with family and friends. Luckily, Fulbright did offer us a good opportunity to celebrate 2 weeks ago, when they hosted the ETA Thanksgiving dinner. Bringing all of the Fulbright ETAs together with the Fulbright office, American Embassy staff, and U.S. Ambassador in Seoul was a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday. However, that event still left me wanting and waiting for my family’s thanksgiving traditions—meeting up with old friends for drinks on Thanksgiving eve, waking up to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning, and finally tucking in to an epic feast at the end of the day.
This week, I tried to share Thanksgiving with my students. I taught them about thanksgiving traditions and foods. I reviewed the history of thanksgiving and, like a good Pitzer alumnus, covered the true history of ghost suppers and the Native American Indian influence. After teaching over 10 hours about thanksgiving, and as excited I was to share this holiday (perhaps even more so than my students), I am missing friends and family a lot.
Wherever you are in the world right now, I hope that you have a wonderful and fulfilling Thanksgiving Day. Eat delicious food, celebrate, and stay in touch.
Happy Thanksgiving from Korea!