2015 was definitely the year of Minoins! From costumes, to backpacks, key chains, creative drawings, songs and the list goes on. At least this was the case for me and all that revolved around me in 2015. The past year has been an incredibly tumultuous, opportunistic and crazy one from all the others up to my 30 years of life on this Earth. I decided as part of my “30th birthday present” to myself, I would go somewhere I had never been before for a year. The timing really couldn’t have been better. A reconnection with a friend from high school reached out to me got the ball rolling. Catching up and many hours later, I decided I would go to South Korea to teach for a year. A part of the decision was, I had always wanted to teach. I can remember back to being children and unable yet to write full sentences, my sister Jessi and I would use up all the paper in the house and draw (the second best to writing) accompanied by a list of alphabets, because that’s all we knew how to do at the time.
I then would find a red marker and mark up and put a sufficient grade on top (this is where my obsessive love for highlighting, writing notes in my books and on the side columns of journals stems from) and play teacher in a classroom. Of course I was always the teacher in this scenario.
I love kids. I love being around such simple minded little people. They say what they feel and haven’t been tainted by the cultural norms of what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. I always wondered if I could become a teacher, would I teach younger children or older? So, this opportunity came at just the right time.
Another part of the reason was, this constant inner battle that I wasn’t doing anything to fulfill what I thought was my greatest potential and purpose for being here: making some sort of difference in someone’s life in an impactful way that was contributing to society. Was I living in a sugar coated fantasy that picking the right major, studying and going to school for all those years and struggling to find the right job that would lead me to Oprah? Was that all something that was just a figment of my imagination? A romanticized version of what is reality?
In my time here, what I found was a lot of struggle, a lot of homesickness, a lot of complaining and tears. Lots and lots of tears questioning if I had done the right thing and counting down the days going back to comfort and home.
But on the other side of that were touching moments I get to take back with me. I did what I set out to do before coming here. In living nearly six thousand miles away I was able to experience the lives I touched at home. I just had to remove myself to become clear headed about it. And an added bonus was that I was able to touch the lives of 11 six year old students in teaching them the language of English. And the 52 other students I taught in the afternoons.
Teaching in a foreign country varies of course, but the rewards are infinite and so immeasurable alike. Through my own personal journey here, I have become forever changed. The impression that these children have had on my day to day life is something I was not expecting but am forever grateful for.
There are uncertainties that come in 2016 that I worry about. However, I think for the first time in a long time, I welcome that uncertainty and probable stress and panic because if 2016 is half of what 2015 was, I will be okay. And while I have made the traditional New Year’s Resolution, the important and number one resolution still remains the same: Learn, Laugh, Cry and Grow because they help to remind you that you are living in the moment and that you are alive.
So 2016, I welcome you wholeheartedly.