baseball, poetry, and kim chi

Sunday, April 09, 2006

life outside the USA

I was asked today about the difficulties of living overseas. At this point it is really no big deal. A few years ago it was more difficult. When I was 23 I went to China. Went to the Hunan province and taught at Central South University of Technology. They hired me right out of school and I’d never taught anything in my life. I lived on the edge of Changsha, a city of a few million, but backwaters in China. I was thrown into a huge class and told to teach. This lasted for about seven months. I’m not really sure how much of the experience (and there were some really good times too) was due to my immaturity and how much was due to the administration just being assholes and taking advantage of someone who didn’t know better, but it turned me off ever teaching in the interior of China again. Maybe Shanghai, who knows, not even sure if I can get a job in China again. Not sure if my holiday speech on civil disobedience was just seen by the local authority, or if it was seen by the higher ups. Anyway, a few days after the speech, and a day or so before I was planning on jumping ship, I was kicked out. Not really sure by whom.

Thailand was easy. Bangkok is full of foreigners. Easy to travel. Safe place to live. never heard of any violence to foreigners. Strange and lovely country though. I was never sure who I was dating. Economics played a large part. “How do you know your father loves you?” I asked a few of my classes, “because he gives me things.” was the response of the majority. nothing about time or gentleness. Rich man good man. Strange shit. good fun. Will go back when I am rich (ha ha).

Korea has been the easiest of all. The church is strong here. Really feels similar to the US (except for the language). I’m really not surprised much. I know the rules. maybe I am just older and been at this for awhile, but it is a piece of cake. I have a great job. My co-workers are good people who are trying. I’ve been here for two years and have received only one dirty look from a student, and that was from an old lady who thought I was giving more attention to a young (23yrs) girl in class. I wasn’t. Maybe I was. anyway, the students work so hard. they come to class at 7a. They are ready to work. want to talk. ready to laugh. One student told me he enjoys class bc he can say things in English he can’t say in korean. Doesn’t have to go through the formalities, can just say what he thinks. the old and young have conversations in English that they could not have in Korean.

*By the way, I wrote a book about my time in China. it was my first real attempt at writing. It is 80,000 words long. full of new writer mistakes, but I look forward to reading it again when I get back to the states. It is living under my bed in NC right now.


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