And that’s a wrap, for real this time.
This week we concluded our teaching at Woorideul School, as well as our entire 2018 DukeEngage journey. There were many emotions and sad goodbyes, but we made some treasurable memories in our last couple days at the school. This week’s teaching was mainly about fun. We do acknowledge that a couple of days would not do much to help them improve their English. Therefore, through activities such as “Mafia”, “Hangman” and “20 Questions”, we got to know them even better while introducing them to some classic American games.
While we had some fun-filled classes, I spent some special time bonding with one of my students. Every day we would start our morning by a 40mins session of reading club. I had four students in my reading group, yet on the last day of our time at Woorideul School, only one showed up. Therefore, instead of having a one-on-one tutor session, I decided to change my role from teacher to a friend, and just have a casual conversation with him. My student was an 18-year-old boy from China who’s been in Seoul for a year now. Although we come from drastically different family backgrounds, our shared Chinese origin and mother tongue made the conversation roll much smoother than I anticipated. We talked about movies, music, sports, childhood memories, etc. As the conversation went on and we got much more comfortable, we both began spilling stories of our past traumas and deepest insecurities. I told him stories about myself that only my closest friends know about while he told me things that he couldn’t even tell his parents. It brought us both to the verge of tears. The biggest frustration he had was that he felt like he couldn’t talk to anyone about his fears and doubts, that he was alone in this world without a grasp of his future. It warmed my heart when he told me that he was finally able to release all the thoughts he had in his head and that meeting me was the best thing that has happened to him in months.
As the school bell rang, students filed in and out of the dining hall. Soon the building went silent as the entire school headed down the street to enjoy a game of bowling and some burgers. Later in the afternoon, we finally said our goodbyes and parted our ways. As the students in Woorideul were much older than that of Jiguchon, the goodbyes were harder even though we spent much less time with them. We hugged and waved, and I wish them the best of luck in living the life they desire.
For the last group activity of the program, the eight of us and Professor Kim boarded the KTX and took a weekend excursion to the city of Busan. Busan is a port city in the south of South Korea that’s famous for its abundance of seafood and unique dialect (사투리). During our stay, we visited historical museums, a movie museum, a seafood market, Busan Tower, etc. The weather was merciless, reaching a record high of 37 degrees Celsius, the highest since 1994. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop us from enjoying a chill evening at the beach watching the sunset. After a busy weekend touring Busan, we returned to our guesthouse in Seoul, ready to savor our last few days in Korea before we head home.