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I’ve never been a good bowler.

When I was a wee lass, I used to go to GattiTown (kinda like a Chuck-E-Cheese but better) and play miniature bowling. I was known for using the bumpers and still getting the lowest score. Getting older hasn’t improved my abilities, so when students at Urideul asked me if I was good at bowling, I said, “no” with conviction.

Wednesday, July 18th was our last day teaching at Urideul School. Since it was our last day with them, I wanted to take a break from boring English lessons. Instead, we engaged in conversations with them about anything they wanted to know about our lives or America. We discussed everything from college extracurriculars to convenience stores, but by the time the bell rang, we had only satiated a tiny fraction of their curiosity. However, our time with them hadn’t ended just yet. After lunch, we went bowling alongside our students and teachers at the school. Students got frustrated, the vice principal boasted impressive skills, and we all shared many laughs and cheers.

Thinking back on our time at this school, it’s crazy to me how close we have gotten to these students despite only spending 8 short days with them.  8 days * 4 hours per day = 32 hours. Just 32 hours being with these students have given us new friends, brothers, and sisters. We spent such a short period of time at this school compared to Jiguchon, but for me, leaving Urideul seems harder. These students have faced unthinkable hardship, from either escaping North Korea, or adjusting to the expectations and stresses of a new home. And yet, these students were vulnerable to us, ready to call us unni, noona, oppa, hyung, and dongsaeng (older sisters and brothers, and younger siblings). They are old enough to remember everything about this experience for years and years to come, so our actions, words, and emotions will linger with them. I can only hope that they take away good memories.

The Urideul School should form a competitive bowling team.

To close off our DukeEngage journey, we all took a short trip to Busan to learn a little more about the Korean war and Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula. Busan was the provisional capital of South Korea during the Korean War, and it is known for housing many war refugees during this time as well as leading the charge for independence from Japan. It was a humbling experience to walk through these museums displaying Busan’s history and realize how far South Korea has come within less than a century. After visiting these museums, we caught a glimpse of how far Busan has come by visiting Busan Tower. Coupled with the city’s seafood and beaches, it served as a nice, relaxing touch to closing off this DukeEngage experience.

“I can see my house from here!”

The next post I upload should be my last one in this series. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this experience as a whole and the emotions that come tied with it, but until next week, prepare to come along with me as I bowl my mind down memory lane.