Author: Valerie Stewart

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The Kindness of Strangers

When we arrived in Korea, we didn’t know a Seoul, er soul… We were able to meet the American teachers we were replacing, but only for a brief time before they headed home.  So, we were left in Korea with only each other and did not know ANY of the language.  Fortunately, our co-teachers showed us more kindness than we could have imagined. Mr. Choi was the first to come to our aid.  He is my official co-teacher and has been nothing short of a blessing to us.  He took the time to get us checked into our hotel...

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As Teachers and Students

An-yang-ha-se-yo! Here we are in our 3rd month of marriage and our 2nd month here in Ulsan, South Korea.  We decided we were having too much time to relax, so we quickly added a ton of new things to our daily agenda.  Aside from our usual lesson planning and teaching, we’ve recently begun two new challenging activities:  Korean language classes and the art of Taekwondo. We have a wonderful language tutor, Ms. Lee, who is the Korean teacher at my school.  She graciously offered to teach us for free in exchange for conversing with me sometimes during the day.  Ms. Lee is a self-taught English speaker who is only now able to use her skills to speak to foreigners!  She is very humble about her abilities, but she speaks excellent English!  We are slowly learning our Korean letters and syllables, but find that it is a challenge to find time to study.  We meet with Ms. Lee 3 times each week and use flash cards to study outside of our language class. After Korean lessons, we head home to grab a quick dinner, a must if we are going to avoid food for the hour preceding our Taekwondo class, as Master Young suggests.  Our class currently consists of 4 small children, all black belts, ourselves, and two other foreigners.  Our pastor, Azel, serves as our translator during class.  Azel...

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Life in Asia

An-yang-ha-se-yo! (Hello!) We arrived safely in South Korea on September 18th (still the 17th in the U.S.). We were immediately taken to meet the teachers at Hyundai Chungun Middle School where I will be teaching for the next 12 months. We had a meeting with the principal which consisted of everyone speaking in Korean for about 5 minutes, then asking us a question in English, then continuing to talk about us in Korean. From there, we were taken to a hotel since our apartment was not yet ready. We were able to meet with the teachers we are replacing, which was very helpful. Jason and Kristen are from Oregon and had been the first native English speakers in their respective schools since several years ago, so they had already pioneered everything for us and were a great help. Griffin teaches at Hyundai Middle school, which is about a 15 minute walk from my school. You will notice a familiar name associated with both schools, Hyundai. Hyundai’s main headquarters is right here in Ulsan. With the ship-building company, as well as offshore engineering and Hyundai Motor Company, roughly 30,000 employees pour into the city for work each day. This company truly stretches for miles and you can easily see its influence here. Most people realize that without the company, Ulsan’s economy would be drastically different. We were finally able to...

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