Hello again. Welcome to the new-New Blog.
So yeah, my original plan for writing all the time after deleting facebook turned out to be complete bunk. I don’t really know why. I started drafting a bunch of posts, and then tossed them aside like so many Dickensian orphans. Maybe I’ll get around to finishing them, but in the meantime here’s a very quick rundown of the past year:
-I was living in Muskogee, Oklahoma with my parents. This is a perfectly fine town which has many admirable qualities (close proximity to family being one of them for me) but it was also a little maddening. I went from a mindset of “Just finished college, now my life will begin!” to one where I was constantly asking the question that used to title this blog: “Now What?” At the best of times, I remembered to be thankful that I had a loving family who was willing to take me under their roof and feed me. At the worst, life had become stunted. It was an interlude, except the curtain wasn’t rising for act II and I was stuck in the bathroom somewhere backstage.
There were days I was, to put it mildly, a little grumpy.
– But in the meantime, at the suggestion of my mom I began working as a substitute teacher for some of the schools in the area. There are numerous stories that I’ll probably get around to sharing, but the important thing for now is that I realized I actually enjoyed teaching. You might read that and think, “Great, so what?” but please understand that this is coming from someone who actively insisted for four years that he was, under no circumstances, going to become a teacher. (This premature attitude was born from one-too-many encounters with new acquaintances who, upon learning that I was an English major, promptly asked, “So you want to teach, right?”)
But not only did I discover a bit of a niche with teaching, I uncovered another blessing: I got to work with special needs classes. At first it was sporadic, since I took these classes as I would any other grade. By the end of the year, working for special needs had evolved into its own mini-job. This was something that I was absolutely terrified to do in the beginning (I only took the job because it was literally the second time a school had called me, and I was pretty desperate for work) and I loved it. I loved it more than I loved any of the “regular ed” classes I subbed for, even the ones taught by great teachers who had respectful kids. I loved it for the same reason I loved my school’s approach to Res Life, which is that it’s a job that tends to be overlooked or taken for granted, but has some of the absolute best people I’ve ever worked with. The kids, obviously, are a delight and a headache. They’re human, just like us, except possibly even more so because unlike us, many of them simply don’t have the walls of self-consciousness and ego built up to inhibit their emotions. When they’re sad, they’re sad. When they’re moody, they’re moody. When they’re loving, they’re very loving.
The staff, too, are remarkable. Many of them have personal connections to special needs — either a close friend or family member, often one of their own children — and they exhibit a remarkable show of patience and understanding that I am truly envious of. Sure there was a fair share of private ranting because so-and-so lied about his homework again, but there was also the silent understanding between everyone that it was never personal. Because you can’t blame a kid for being born with autism or ADHD, or for having emotional issues due to negligent parenting. You just can’t.
Anyway, to wrap up what probably should have been a long section, for about a month and a half before I left for Korea, I actually got to work one-on-one with a special needs kid of my own. It was exhausting but satisfying, and I would do it again without hesitation.
-And yes, you read that correct. I am in Korea. Have been for over a month, now, actually. Back in December, I tried my hand once more at applying to go teach English overseas and this time was accepted. I spent much of my winter and spring preparing documents for the visa. Unfortunately, I did not get to do much research of my own into the country or its language, in large part because a lot of my energy was spent figuring out how to do the para professional job correctly, but also because I was lazy. Regardless, I’ve learned a little bit already, like how to say hello and thank you and goodbye and rice and “Please take me to the emart,” which is what I say to taxi drivers when I need to go shopping for food or toilet paper.
Anyway, Korea is what this blog is mostly going to be about. I’m working at a Hagwon, which is a kind of school that has extra classes (usually English) which students can sign up for after all their regular classes are done. The new name of the blog is, with utmost love and respect, stolen from Elizabeth Bishop, since I honestly could not come up with a better title than her.