Thursday, December 04, 2008

on the road again...

you know, before i left for kenya i fully expected it to be something of a break, a two-year stint to learn something about myself and god and the world before i came back to sell out or join the rat race or get a real job, whatever you want to call it. i wanted to be in the US - it's where my family is, where my friends are. it's where i feel comfortable most of the time. it's where i call "home".

but while i was there i met a lot of volunteers who didn't look back, who, for different reasons, didn't plan on returning stateside after their peace corps contract was through. some just wanted to get out of america, away from narrow-mindedness and elitism and ethnocentrism and, let's face it, bush. others liked the romanticism of life as an expat (and rightly so - it can be damn cool). but most still thought of america as home, as a place they would end up eventually, and they just wanted to get a few good stories out of their time abroad for their friends back home. (if you think this is some kind of self-analysis and confession...well, you may be right.) the ones i admired most were of the rare breed who live in every moment as if none other mattered or existed. they embraced kenya and the peace corps without a second thought, because that was a fact and there was much to be learned and loved besides.

my point is that they really got me thinking. i didn't really know WHY i wanted to come back to the US, aside from the fact that my friends and family, etc. are here. don't get me wrong, that's a huge factor, but i'll (hopefully) have my friends and family wherever i go. it's so easy to communicate with people now that the people who mean the most to me will never be that far away - emotionally, at least. i tried to change my focus to live like this for the remainder of my time in kenya, and i think i succeeded. i finally came to think of my house and village in kenya as home.

and i came to think eventually that it didn't really matter where i was - home is a state of mind.

with that said, for at least the next year, my home will be in south korea.

lisa and i will be leaving in mid-february to teach english in public schools with EPIK for at least one year. we requested to be placed in Gyeongnam-do (also called Gyeongsangnam-do - see highlighted area on the map), a southern region of the country, and were told by both our recruiter and our interviewer lastnight that we should get a placement somewhere in that area.

several months after i was sworn into peace corps, i remember talking to my friend jefferson, who was teaching english in a private school (hagwon) outside of Seoul at the time. he encouraged me to come over (i was considering leaving PC for various reasons), and i seriously considered it. in the end, clearly, i stayed in kenya (luckily, or else i never would have met lisa), but visions of working and living in south korea were etched into my mind.

when i left kenya, i left lisa there - she had 9 months left in peace corps. when she came back early (thanks, post-election violence!) she moved up to DC with me, on the condition that we leave for south korea at the end of our 6-month lease. well, our lease is up at the end of january, so this works out just about perfectly.

i'm really stoked. i've started taking korean lessons from the rosetta stone software (thanks julia) and pawing through as many guidebooks as i can find. lisa and i also bought our plane tickets, so we know our actual departure date - february 16th! i wasn't planning on buying our tickets this early, but i found a deal i couldn't pass up - $650 from BWI to Seoul, including taxes & fees (!

i'll post more later, with more info about EPIK and the work that we'll be doing. but for now, i've got a bit more work here - at home - in DC to finish up.

1 comment :

  1. Hi, I am considering going to S.K. through EPIK in August, and am searching for a good recruiter to work with. Can you email me the name of yours?


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