Today is Friday 25th of May, twenty two days since summer started and two days prior to departure of my journey to Seoul, South Korea. The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of finals, packing, beach week, traveling, unpacking, more packing and more traveling. After flying for 15+ hours, I finally returned to the comfort of my own home in Beijing China. Before my jetlag even wore off, I departed once again and took a six days trip to Singapore, the country I resided in for the past three years. While the joy of returning home and reconnecting with old high school friends slowly settles, it dawned upon me that my DukeEngage journey is about to take off. It was like yesterday when I submitted my application, yet I’m heading to Seoul in two days!
I’ve always had a special relationship with South Korea. It was 2013 when I first delved into the world of K-Pop and Korean culture, and was immediately captured by its unique and flamboyant charisma. Gradually over the past five years, I picked up the Korean language to roughly 70% fluency through watching an alarming amount of Korean dramas and variety shows. I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to spend two months in this country, and I am so grateful that DukeEngage is helping me tick off a box on my bucket list.
Set aside the excitement, I do have a few concerns for this trip. First, I have never had a long-term, systematic teaching experience for English, especially to a rather special group of students. During the program, we will be spending a month at each school, teaching immigrant children as well as North Korean refugee children. One month is a very short time when it comes to learning a new language. Within this month, it would also take us some time to adjust the curriculum as well as get familiar with the kids and the teaching environment. As much as I would like to make the most out of this experience, I fear that our accomplishments will fall short of our expectations.
Second, I have confidence in my Korean, yet my conversational skills lie in an awkward area just short of complete fluency. Casual conversations are no problem, but there might be some difficulty if the conversation goes any deeper. Speaking a language in its native country terrifies me, but I cannot wait to see my improvements in the next two months.