Day 739 - School Farewell

I was originally supposed to give my farewell speech on Monday, but since it's been raining so hard it got pushed to Thursday. Last week I sat down in Nonsan's only Dunkin Donuts with a blank sheet of paper in front of me. Almost every day for the past two years, there's been at least one occassion where I wished I spoke Korean in front of the students. For the most part I don't because I was afraid of two things. One, that they would mock my pronunciation, which is notorious in all my classes for being terrible. Two, that they would stop trying to speak English because they knew I understood their Korean. At times, it was really funny to feign ignorance, like when they would chatter before class about how "Lindsay looks really pretty today. I think it's a new dress! She lost a lot of weight since last year." At times, it was incredibly frustrating, like when I would ask a student to answer a question and he would snort and say something like "F*ck I hate this class."

And now I had an opportunity to address all the students at once. A great opportunity to get everything off my chest, from praising the students that tried so hard to asking the misbehaving students if they could be kinder to the next ETA. Asking them not to judge their peers so harshly, set aside their hatred of English to just embrace my class as a "hangout" instead of a dreaded subject, encouraging them to do anything they like so long as they try to do it well. Explain that my class isn't designed to teach them English, but rather designed to teach them a new, creative way of thinking. That class on clothes wasn't really about clothes -- it was about accepting people based on who they are, not what they wear. That class on Yes/No questions wasn't about learning proper sentence structure, but rather it was sharing with each other in order to grow closer and build trust.

So many things I wish I could have told them, and I ended up settling on triangle kimbab and banana milk.

739. 739일 동안 한국에서 지냈어요. 739일 사이에 많은 것을 모험했어요. 언젠가는 마지막 열차를 탔고 논산에 가는 길에 잠이 들었다가 새벽 2시에 광주에서 깨어났어요. 부산 수족관에서 상어랑 스쿠버 다이빙을 했고 경주에서 템플스태이를 했어요. 타이완, 말레이시아, 일본, 태국과 필리핀 해외 여행도 했어요.

739. I have been in Korea for 739 days. In 739 days, Ive had many adventures. Coming to Nonsan on the last train, and waking up at 2AM in Qwangju. I went scuba diving in the Busan aquarium with sharks. I did a temple stay in Gyeongju. I even traveled abroad to Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines.

그렇지만 한국에서 첫 번째의 행동은 삼각김밥바나나우유를 먹은 것이었어요. 대단하다고 생각했어요. 드디어 한국에 왔구나 라고 생각했으면서 먹는 방법을 몰랐었기 때문에 삼각김밥을 망가트려 버렸어요. 1989년엔 우리 가족은 서울에서 살았었는데 20년 동안 한국에 다시 오는 꿈을 꿨어요. 한미교육위원단의 Fulbright 장학금의 원서를 한 지 1년 됐고 대학교에서 한국어를 공부한 지도 1년 됐어요. 하지만 드디어! 열심히 준비한 결과 목표를 달성했어요! 삼각김밥과 바나나우유로요.

But the first thing I did in Korea was eat a triangle kimbab and a banana milk. I thought it was amazing. Im finally in Korea! I thought, destroying my triangle kimbab because I didnt know how to open it. I had dreamed of coming back for 20 years, ever since my family lived in Seoul in 1989. Applying for the Korean American Education Commissions Fulbright Scholarship took a year, then studying Korean for a year in college. Finally! My preparations came to fruition! a triangle kimbab and a banana milk.

, 얘들한테 삼각김밥과 바나나우유가 신기하지 않지만 외국인한테 한국은 정말 대단해요. 한국에서는, 집에서 있으면서 부대찌개를 배달시킬 수 있어요 가스 레인지까지! 한국에서는, 거물 입구에서 젖은 우산을 위해서 비닐봉지가 있어요! 한국에서는, 통장에 본인 직접 쓰지 않고 자동으로 인쇄해요! 가장 대단하게, 한국에서는, 호프집이 아침2시 말고 하루 종일 열려요!

Now, to you, a triangle kimbab and a banana milk arent very exciting, but to a foreigner, everything in Korea is amazing. In Korea, you can order budaejjigae to your house, complete with a gas burner! In Korea, theres plastic bags for your wet umbrella at building entrances! In Korea, you have an electronic bankbook that prints your transactions so you dont write them all down yourself! Most amazingly, in Korea, bars dont close at 2am, theyre open all night!

얘들한테 이건 낯익지만 외국인한텐 대단해요. 그리고 이거 알아요? 너희들 모두 이것처럼 대단해요. 얼마나 평범한지 모른다고 생각하는데, 너희들은 나한테 대단해요. 너희가 영어를 좋아할지 싫어할지, 대한을 갈지 직업을 가질지, 가족을 갖을 것인지 미국여행을 할지 나는 여러분들에 대해 정말 소중한 기억을 가지고 있어요.

This is all familiar to you. But to a foreigner, theyre amazing. And you know what? Each of you are like that. No matter how ordinary and normal you think your story is, you are amazing to me. Whether you love English or you hate it, whether youre going to college or going to work, whether you dream of starting a family or traveling to America, I have amazing memories of you.

Speed Quiz 때문에 얘들이 열광 것을 보는 걸 좋아했어요... 설사 body language를 사용했더라도. 딴 수업을 가르쳤을 때 얘들은 영어실 문으로 엿봤을 때 기분 많이 좋았어요. 가장 부끄럼 타고 조용한 학생들은 영어 말하기 시험 완벽하게 합격했을 때 얼마나 행복했는지 몰라요. 학교축제에서 같이 놀았고 남자, 여자친구, 알바나 주말에 한 일에 대해서 이야기 했을 때 많이 즐거웠어요. 한가지 아쉬운 점은 학생들 모두를 알지 못 하고 반밖에 모르는 것이에요.

I loved seeing you flip out over speed quiz, even though you cheated with body language. I loved seeing you looking through the English room door while I taught other classes. I loved watching even the shyest, quietest student ace the speaking test. I enjoyed hanging out with you at the school festival, talking about boyfriends/girlfriends, your part time jobs, what you did on the weekend. My only regret is that I dont know half of you as well as I want to.

같이 나눈 이야기는 너무 대단했어요, 얘들에겐 그 이야기가 재미없다고 생각해도. 그 이야기들은 나한텐 한국인들은 그냥 사람이라고 가르쳤어요. 스트레스와 걱정, 희망과 꿈이 있는 사람. 꼭 나 같아요.

Free-talking with you was so amazing, even if you think your stories are boring. It taught me that Koreans are people, just like me, with stress and worry and hope and dreams.

2주 후에 미국으로 가요. 아마도 제약 회사에서 일 할 거에요. 생화학과 분자 생물학 같은 직업을 구해야 되기 때문에 스트레스를 많이 받았어요. 그 전에, 내 한국 생활을 다 정리해야 돼요. 친구와 학생한테 작별해야 돼요.

In two weeks, Im leaving for America. I must find a job in biochemistry and molecular biology, probably at a pharmaceutical company, so Im stressed. Meanwhile, I have to pack up my life in Korea. I have to say goodbye to friends and students.

한국에 왔을 때, 1년 동안만 즐겁게 여행하고 미국 신생활을 시작하기로 했어요.하지만 지금은 언제 한국에서 진정한 생활 하게 될 지가 궁금해요. 한국 제약 회사에서 취직하기로 했지만 먼저 한국말을 유창하게 해야 하기 때문에 한국어능력시험을 합격하도록 미국에서 한국어를 계속 공부해야 돼요.

I came to Korea thinking I would just travel for a year and then start my real life in America. Now I wonder when I can return to my real real life in Korea. I want to get a job at a Korean pharmaceutical company. However, I must be fluent in Korean, so I have to keep studying Korean in America for the Test of Proficiency in Korean.

한국에 다시 돌아올 수 있을지 없을지 어떻게 될지 모르겠지만 아무튼 우리의 기억을 항상 간직하고 있을 거에요. 영어실 문으로 엿보거나, 수업 중에서 얘들 다시 잤으니까 답답했거나 I want *to* travel *to*…” 기억했기 때문에 만족스러웠어요.

I dont know whats going to happen, if I can return or not, but Ill always have my memories of you. Seeing you peek in the English room door, rolling me eyes because youre sleeping in class *again*, or feeling proud because you remembered I want *to* travel *to*…”

새로운 원어 민 교사는 한국에 왔고 지금 한국에 적응을 위해 한국어를 공부하고 가르치는 연습하고 있어요. 미국인이라는 것 밖에 몰라요. 남자, 여자, 흑인, 백인, 교포 인지는 몰라요. 하지만 나처럼 외국인이기 때문에 얘들은 신기하다고 생각할 거에요. 왜냐하면 이건 사실이기 때문에요. 얘들의 이야기를 새 교사랑 나눠 보세요. 사긴 남자, 여자친구나 택배 알바나 얘들의 생활에 대해서 이야기 해보세요. 너희들한테는 재미없을지 몰라도 외국인한테는 신기하고 재미있어요.

Your new teacher has arrived in Korea and is at orientation studying Korean and practicing teaching. All I know is that theyre American. Man, woman, white, black, Korean-American, I dont know. But theyre a foreigner and theyll be like me. Theyll find you all amazing. Because you are. Share with them, tell them about your new boyfriend/girlfriend, your box-slinging part time job, your life. Its amazing and interesting to us, even if it seems stupid to you.

삼각김밥과 바나나우유가 같아요.

Like triangle kimbab and banana milk.


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