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 when we first arrived and he is the one who actually selected our apartment for us. To make things even more convenient for us, our apartment is located within walking distance of his own home. He is kind enough to give us rides home from school when we don’t have Korean lessons and frequently stops by to help us with any problems we are having in our apartment. (I.e., not speaking the same language as the Landlord, appliance instructions written in Korean, setting up accounts for utilities, etc.) We have been fortunate to spend time with Mr. Choi outside of school. He invited us hiking with him where we bottled fresh mountain water to take home. He and his beautiful wife have offered for us to visit their home at some point for dinner. He’s a fan of FRIENDS! We are privileged to call him our friend.
Mr Shin has also been so wonderful to us. As soon as we arrived in Korea, Mr. Shin became our official tour guide. He has taken us many places around the country and offered us delicious Korean meals at some great restaurants, never allowing us to pay. (We have forced him and his wife to allow us to buy them dinner, only one time.) He is also a Christian and we have visited his church on occasion. He introduced us to our church home, which has led to many friendships and other opportunities. His wife studies English and speaks well, although she is very shy. She sometimes translates to her husband, the English teacher! Both are very kind to us and fun to hang out with!
Mrs. Nam is Griffin’s co-teacher and everyday, except Wednesdays, he has “teacher time” when he and Mrs. Nam talk about many topics from movies to education to technology and even politics, most of all the differing culture and perspectives of our respective countries. This is one of the highlights of Griffin’s day at school. Griffin really enjoys learning about the Korean way of life and also comparing and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each culture and their different social, economical and educational systems, traditions and ideas. Afterward, he shares what he has learned with Valerie and day by day we become more knowledgable and interested in these wonderful people and their culture.
Mrs. Nam does such a great job of letting Griffin know about upcoming events and also helping translate or take care of many different things that he would otherwise be unable to do. After realizing Griffin was taking the bus to Valerie’s school three days a week for Korean class, Mrs. Nam generously offered to take Griffin and drop him off when she can. This has been a huge help and allows Griffin to arrive at the school ten to fifteen minutes earlier than would be possible with the bus. Mrs. Nam has become a great friend and has been very helpful in helping Valerie and Griffin learn more about Koreans and their culture than could ever been discovered in a culture guide, newspaper or TV program.
A few months ago, we were all strangers to each other. We are proud to now call them friends.