In my year abroad, I have really started to re-appreciate writing letters. It wasn’t that long ago that my friends and I were waiting around to see that clock tick to three o’ clock to see our mailman walk by to distribute the day’s mail that I would walk out and see an envelope that a friend wrote from his or her trips over the summer abroad. I remember the envelopes would be decorated or full of stickers. And for many of us who were artistically challenged, just a pretty envelope from the stationary store. (Remember Sanrio stationary?)
As progressed this country is when it comes to technology, hardly anyone emails each other. Their primary form of communication is messaging application called Kakao. The first thing I did when I came to Korea was to make sure I signed up for a cell phone plan. However, no one has ever left me a voicemail message (Koreans don’t have voicemail features on their phones, you must go to the store and ask them to “turn it on”. Also, no one as ever called me on my phone. Well, that’s not true. Maybe just a handful of times in the year I have been here.
So you can imagine the confusion I have been facing. Without Kakao, you just do not exist.
In teaching children, there are so many instances that parents of the children send gifts. And because there is a communication barrier and I have always been taught to call or send a card of appreciation, the sensible thing, no matter how much the recipient may or may not be able to read, it was important to me that I sent cards homes to say a simple thank you.
What I didn’t realize however, was the amount of times writing has come in to play in my time here. Whether it has been to say ‘Thank You’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Goodbye,’ it has been a daily task for myself. And what I have come to understand in writing so many letters (a set of 9 each time) is that writing is a beautiful thing. It is incredibly difficult and trying at times, but the reward is immeasurable when you find the right words to convey the exact emotions and sentiment for the individual. Of course, you have tendencies to be redundant on certain things: “It’s been a pleasure of having *insert student name here* in my class”, or “*insert student name* is such a special young boy/girl.”
On the other spectrum, I have also been told by my Korean teacher that the parents appreciate so much when they receive those letters at home. One parent told me that the letter touched her so much, she cried at home after reading my Christmas personalized letter that was sent home.
I know a few people who continue to write physical cards or letters today. It is an art, it is an emotion, and it is always appreciated.
People should send more letters to each other.