Saturday, October 10, 2015

Through the Cracks


   As a blogger it seems that more and more stuff seems to just fall through the cracks. That is to say that things I should be writing about, recording, or photographing for my blog just seem to, well, fall through the cracks and never make it onto this blog.

   It is for a number of reasons really. Sometimes it is because what I am doing isn't long enough to make a whole video out of. Other times it is because there are other people around me who probably wouldn't enjoy a camera following them around everywhere they go. More often than not though, what I do is just ordinary mundane stuff.

   Believe it or not, living abroad isn't all glitz and glam like the Travel Channel would like you to think. I am not complaining, far from it. I love living abroad and all the mundane things that go along with it. Though when all I do for the day is wake up, take a shower, eat lunch, go to school, come back, and do some laundry, I don't really feel like that translates well into a blog post. Don't get me wrong, the mundane stuff in blogs is what I read them for, but even I have a limit on how mundane I can stand to read or watch. I am sure the readers of this blog can relate.

   For that reason, things just seem to fall through the cracks. However, unlike those socks under your bed from freshman year, I have not forgotten about the things that I have captured along the way. So, here I will post some of the photos that have been gathering so much dust in the deepest darkest recesses of my hard drive and memories. Perhaps some of these things you have seen on my Facebook page with or without stories attached to them. Some of them I have not shared at all, and I'd like to do that... now.

Right now.

Right after this.

   Upon arriving in Yecheon one of the first things I noticed was a large pagoda atop a small mountain. At night it is lit up beautifully and it didn't take me long before I started asking how to get up there to see it. It also didn't take me very long to get invited to hike to it. A fellow teacher invited me and, although the hike to this part is fairly easy and quick, the rest of it is fairly difficult but well worth the view.

Excuse the weird white ghost at the bottom right.
   I quickly met the few foreigners who live in my town. I am glad I did because although I am pretty good about figuring stuff out, these two in particular Dai and Lauren, have saved me from many headaches for sure.

   Sports day is kind of one of those perks of being a teacher here in my opinion. For one, I didn't have any classes that day, and for two it was a lot of fun watching my students battle it out against each other in different events. It also gave me an opportunity to meet some parents and see other town's people acting goofy. Sports day is interesting because pretty much the whole town came and shops even had to close because a lot of those shops are run by my student's parents.

   It never ceases to amaze me the type of people you end up meeting while abroad. The stories you hear and the talents you see really are unique and for some reason they seem more prevalent while travelling. Not sure why that is. One of those talents is someone I met named Bob Westfall. He's an amazing singer of a genre that hits closer to home than what I expected to hear from a Canadian, let alone a Canadian living in Korea. Check him out here.

   I guess that is about it. I just wanted to share with you all the stuff that kind of fell through the cracks since I have been here. There is more, of course, but I think this gives you a little bit of an idea of what has transpired.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Heart of Stone and a Tiny Human

   I don't know whether I am a good person or a bad person. I feel like in this world, we don't really live by those black and white distinctions. I would say that I am a good person, but I have done bad things, said things I shouldn't have said, and made enemies out of friends. I don't think I am alone in that. Lately that question has popped into my head a lot and ones just like it. "Am I a good person," "am I a good teacher," and so on.

   I have been in a bit of a bad mood this week. Some reasons I feel are justified, and others I feel may be me not dealing with things in the correct way. I know, or at least have an idea, of when I am wrong and I can admit it. I feel like my teaching has suffered because of it a little too. In summary I have been questioning why I am here in Korea at all and feeling a little bad that I could answer it with words, but not with my heart. There has been a bitter feeling brewing and growing inside of me...

   Today was probably one of the worst days. Sure, everything went as planned, and I excelled at the task at hand, but I felt bitter and unfulfilled. Perhaps even unjustly so, but that didn't change my feelings in the slightest. Sometimes you feel a certain way for no real reason. 

   So after school I walk home, try to just relax, quickly come to the conclusion that will not work, and head out for a walk still in my work clothes complete with a tie... I didn't know where I was going or why I was walking, but I was.

   Here I am down on myself and acting like a big baby when not even a block from my apartment I hear crying. I look down the street to my left and I see a little girl running in my general direction. Usually I would have walked on, kids cry for a lot of reasons, but I stopped for some reason and looked around. None of the other adults seemed to stop or slow down for the little girl except one old lady who didn't seem familiar to the little girl either. 

   This little girl was about 6 feet from me and I looked her straight in her teary little black almond shaped eyes. Instantly the heart of stone I had been carrying within my chest cracked, broke, crumbled, and melted into a soft puddle of mush. I realized instantly that this little girl, no older than about 4, who was filthy from a hard day of playing without a care in the world, now had streaks down her face from salty tears that had washed away the dirt... because she was lost.

   Now, my town is tiny. To get truly lost in this town would be an amazing feat. However, for a human being who stood no taller than my waist, this town might as well be downtown Manhattan. To her one block was probably a mile and a three story building probably a skyscraper. Knowing this, I assumed her parents couldn't be more than a block away at most, and I motioned for her to come to me.

   I saw hesitation in her step and I knelt to her level so as to look less opposing. I am not a very tall person but in her eyes I am probably a giant. As I did so she came to me still sobbing. I asked, "Are you okay?" and instantly realized that was a mistake. Her eyes widened and her sobbing stopped momentarily out of surprise. Then she turned and booked it down a random alley. I wondered if she might have realized where her home was and, for fear of scaring her even more, I didn't run after her. I simply stood watching as she rounded another corner. I waited for another few seconds and just as I thought, she came running back around that same corner and stopped, looking at me and sobbing. Again I knelt down and beckoned to her the Korean way (Palm down like calling a dog. I hate doing it, but I wanted to be as familiar to her as possible.) and said, "괜찮아?"(gwaenchan-a meaning, "Okay?") in as best of an accent as I could. It was the only thing I knew to ask in Korean but this seemed to help put her at ease a little and again she came to me. This time I offered her my hand and she put her dirty little paw in mine and we walked out onto the street again.

   So now I have a little girl who is lost and can't speak a word of English, what am I to do? I took out my phone and called my Korean co-teacher for help. I seemed to have given the little girl a little comfort because she quieted down a bit and I had no fear of her running off again. Thankfully my co teacher answered quickly, and just as I am asking her to ask the little girl where her family might be, out pops a little boy about 2nd or 3rd grade age from a random side street. Instantly the little girl turns and runs to him sobbing even louder but clearly relieved to have found someone familiar and off she went without a second glance back at me. The little boy bowed to me and smiled, I waved and watched them both walk down the road to an elder who was waiting for them, the little girl's tearful sobbing still audible even at a distance.

   That's when I remembered in my mind and my heart why I am here. I am no white knight here to save every lost child and rescue kittens from trees... But ultimately I am here for the kids. I love kids. Kids know things that adults could never fathom, are dumb about things we take as common knowledge, fearful of things we find laughable, and brave in times when they should be running in fear. Kids are amazing little creatures, and I love them all. It took a tiny human being, who was really in need of a bath, to remind a fully grown adult what his purpose was. I want to help children in any way humanly possible and make a positive impact in their lives. I don't believe in fate or predetermined destiny, but if there is such a thing, mine is to help kids whenever they need it. Both in good times like trying to win an English speech contest, and in hard times when separated from their parents.

   In time I will inevitably lose my purpose again and in time this little girl will get lost at least once more in her life. For her, I wish I could guide her back home every time, because for me, she will always stick in my mind as a guide back to who I am and what I am supposed to be doing.

   All that, from just a tiny little human being.