Category Archives: Korea

Places: Birthday Dinner, Seoul, South Korea

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One of the great things about having a summer birthday is that you get to do fun things to celebrate and for me, I’ve gotten to be in all different awesome places for my birthday including Jamaica, California, Minnesota, and Korea.  Here are a few pics with some of my extended family and me at at restaurant on the east side of Seoul.

(Korean cakes are awesome)

Don’t ask me why they are holding large plastic axes…

Happy 22nd birthday to me!

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Places: St. Paul Orthodox Church, Incheon, South Korea

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I grew up in an Evangelical home and community and went to an Evangelical college.  As a result, Christian faith has always been important to me as well as a big part of my life.  However, when there were too many unanswered questions (or too many different answers to my questions), I wanted to find something that seemed more rooted in something other than everyone’s different interpretations of the Bible. As a result, I turned to the Ancient Church–Eastern Orthodoxy, for guidance.  I was very skeptical of it for a long time, as I was of all churches and claims to Truth, but during my time in Korea I decided to give it a fair chance.  And am I ever glad that I did.  I met a wonderful priest named Father Daniel Na and attended his church, St. Paul Orthodox Church in Incheon, one city over from Bucheon.  Luckily, he was fluent in English, so he was able to teach me a lot.  I didn’t end up joining the Church while in Korea, but it was an important stage in my spiritual search.  Here are some pictures of the beautiful church:

I also had the pleasure of celebrating Pascha (Easter) while in Korea.  It’s an incredibly joyous celebration of Christ’s resurrection involving a long, late night service followed by LOTS of good food and drink!  Here are some pictures my Priests’ son took of the occasion:

Me w/ the priest’s wife:

Father Daniel giving me a red egg, symbolizing the resurrection of Christ

Aren’t the icon murals incredible??

This church was a precious, precious part of my time in Korea and I will never forget all of the wonderful, warm, loving people in this congregation.  I can’t wait to go back to see everyone next time I’m in Korea!

Places: Jebu-Do, Gyeonggi, South Korea

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Periodically, the staff at my school would go on little trips or dinner outings together to get away from work and spend time with one another.  Our first trip was to Jebu-Do, (the “do” part meaning “island.”)  I was pretty excited when I first found out we were going to an island because I was getting sick of the smog of the city and, well, even though it’s Korea, I ignorantly had images of tropical happiness in my mind.  Well, I was in for a surprise when we got there and there were no palm trees, no sun, and only mud.  Korean island.  Hello…

Well, anyway, even though it wasn’t what I expected, it still was pretty.  Here are some pics for you to judge for yourself:

Some of my coworkers:

Have you ever been anywhere that turned out to be totally different from what you expected?


Places: Karaoke Room, Bucheon, South Korea

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One of the things that makes Korea Korea are karaoke rooms.  For $15, you can rent out a big room for your group of friends and sing the night away.  They usually have hundreds of songs available in Korean, English, and Chinese, so foreigners can have fun, too!  One of my most memorable moments was karaoke night with my students.  They were so adorable and incredibly into it!

(Please forgive the poor-res photos, Korea was before my DSLR days…)

And a video!

If you’re ever in Korea, be sure to check out a Karaoke room.  (They are called Noh-reh-bong, or 노래방)  You won’t regret it!

Places: Samkwang International Christian School, Bucheon, South Korea

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Okay, so even though this post is categorized under places, you’re mostly going to see faces in this post.  HOWEVER, I don’t think that is necessarily a contradiction because at the end of the day, places and travel are all about people, culture, and relationships.  Right?  So here goes the first post of several to come about my time living in South Korea.

I lived in Bucheon, South Korea for most of 2009, teaching at an international Christian school called Samkwang International Christian School (SICS).  It wasn’t your traditional international school, considering that all of the students were actually Korean citizens.  They call it an international school because the curriculum is (in theory) entirely in English.  Most of them had started at this all-English-speaking school in kindergarten, so through immersion, they learned to learn in English.  While most of them were very fluent in English, they spoke what many would call “Konglish.”  They always called me “teacher,” when I asked them why they were doing something they would say, “just,” and they always dragged out their consonants at the end of every sentence. “Butuhhhh!”  “Teacherrrrr”  “Too much homeworkuhhhh!”  “I don’t like Englisheeee!”  (If you’ve lived there, I’m sure you will know what I’m talking about.)

Since I had traveled to Korea over half a dozen times to visit relatives and had previously lived in Korea over a summer to work with North Korean refugees, I didn’t spend a lot of time sightseeing or traveling around.  The bulk of my time was spent in the daily grind teaching these kids, grading their papers, planning their lessons, tutoring them after school, buying them ice cream, taking them out for dinner, hanging out at the park, playing soccer with them, listening to their problems, meeting their families, and kicking them out of my apartment when it was time for me to go to bed.

If you’re wondering if this is normal for foreign teacher’s in Korea, it’s definitely not.  I was at a very unique school that encouraged personal relationships and mentorship with the small classes of students.  And since my students were all transitioning into puberty, their parents were especially thankful for my personal investment.

My time in Bucheon, South Korea, was a life-impacting year.  Now, when I think of Korea, I don’t think of the typical things–kimchee, karaoke rooms, Korean bbq, Namsan tower, Jeju Island, temples, mountains, public baths, no, I think of these beautiful kids who have taught me more than I ever want to know about pre-teens, but more importantly, have shared themselves, their spunk, their energy, their humor, their intelligence, and their love, with me:

Andy

Robert

Peter

Mary

Jimmy

Daniel

Sarah

Justin

Clement

Joey

Jennifer

And Rebecca managed to successfully dodge the camera for an entire year, so here she is with the other girls (Top right corner):

A few more just for fun:

They were always looking for things to do during cleaning time besides cleaning.  On this particular occasion they thought it would be funny to tape Jimmy to the pole in our classroom.  And to be honest, it was pretty funny, so I took a picture; then I yelled at them to get back to work…^-^

Hope you come back to hear more about my year in Bucheon, South Korea!