Its now been four months since leaving the United States. This venture started with a quest to see the world. I wasn’t satisfied with my life in the States. I was constantly frustrated with the job market, I was tired of the hustle and bustle and I just wanted to finally do something outside of the box. I knew there was a world, a life, out there that I had yet to see and experience. It was just a matter of taking a leap of faith and actually experiencing it. As Micah and I prepared for our transition to Korea, we both discovered the only thing that was stopping a dream or thought from becoming a reality was a lack of faith, limitations we place on God and ourselves and what our society deems as impossible.
No, I don’t think Korea is our end all, be all. I think it’s just the beginning of our travels around the world. It takes a special person to live in the land of the morning calm or anywhere unfamiliar. Life here, is not as difficult for us as it was in the States. But, it sure is different. Collectivism is a big aspect in the Korean culture. It is far better to be a part of the group rather than a complete, separate individual. In fact, what i’ve learned during my stay here in Korea is my introverted ways are highly frowned upon. For example, when it first started getting warm outside. I would sit outside and just enjoy the weather. My western mind thought, “why not, i’ve been working indoors all day, I just want to be outside and embrace the silence just for 10 minutes.” Come to find out, weeks later, I was being perceived as the lonely English teacher. Some of my colleagues were very hesitant to talk to me because they thought I didn’t like to engage in conversation. So, I had a choice to make. I could’ve been flippant and completely disregard their reservations or humble myself and create some type of harmony in my work environment; and I chose the latter. It was not easy, but it was absolutely necessary.
Walter Foreman was one of the several speakers at the EPIK orientation. His lecture was about Korean Culture, School Life and Language. He shared this mnemonic, ASK (Awareness, Sensitivity, Knowledge) to help us remember when we encounter cultural difficulties or misunderstandings. Fast forward, four months later, I am just now starting to understand what he meant by it. Awareness reflects a new culture, surroundings and systems. Sensitivity, accepting that naturally things will always be different. Knowledge, the only way to ever understand a new culture is to know the history of the land and its people.
My developmental process has grown in ways I never could have imagined. When Micah and I decided to uproot our lives in America, surprisingly, social norms were not where I thought I would be most challenged. But, I am and it’s helping me grow into a better person, not only for myself, but also for those that surround me. I’m learning life is far more than a selfish, all about me mentality. And like I stated several times before, conviction of my thought processes and how I see the world, are never good at the time in which they are happening. But, in hindsight I see the lessons and the growth I’ve had from them. For that, I am very thankful. I am no longer afraid to just ASK and just BE in my process of becoming.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Willynn Sanon Thompson
Writer: Esther Lynn