Mid-Terms and Fall Conference: School Visits with Taylor and Fulbright Takes Gyeongju!

Part 2 of Taylor's catch up session!

On the week of October 12th, my students had midterms. So, I went on "Le Tour De Naju: A Marathon where Taylor Sees Every ETA's School in Naju" and also saw my friend's school in Jeongeup.

I would love to tell you that I took pictures in Naju and Jeongeup, but all I ended up with are two selfies and a #basic pic of our pretty coffee drinks.

Now.. On Friday, October 16th I went to Gyeongju for Fulbright's Fall Conference! Here's the quick and dirty:
We got Fulbright swag.
I got to see friends that I haven't seen in ~^*months*^~!

So good to see so many friends!
We took a tour of Gyeongju. I got to see some pretty historical things,
like these tombs (name to be added because I forgot)!
On the tour, my friends and I went on a detour to this "torch light site".

Yes, a torch light site... Like,
queue animated GIF

And... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIhnYFRu4ao&feature=youtu.be&t=182

Here's the deeper stuff:

I think for some people Fall Conference was a time to troubleshoot teaching, but for me I had a lot to unload and think about in terms of my identity in Korea.

If you didn't know, Korea doesn't like Japan. There is a lot of bad blood. Like Katy and Taylor doesn't even begin to describe how Koreans feel about Japan.

So when I tell students that I am Korean and Japanese, they usually respond with "REALLY?"

When I was visiting my friend's school in Naju, I had some students tell me "Dokdo is our island. Dokdo is Korea's." It wasn't surprising because I've heard this before. Dokdo is really important to Koreans (like reallyreally, important) and I'd imagine equally important to Japan. But when I visited a different school in Naju, my friend (who is Korean American and can speak Korean very well) explained how I am Korean, Japanese, and Native Hawaiian.

Her coteacher, a middle-aged Korean man, looked at me and explained that 1,000 years ago Korea and Japan were one people, but it's not like that any more.

I was really shocked when he said this. It took me by surprise and he had to go take care of some kids, so I didn't get to ask what he really meant, but I like to think that he knew I've been struggling with being Korean/Japanese and explaining myself in Korea.

At Fall Conference, I was in a breakout session centered on being Korean American in Korea. This group is a collection of Korean Americans, half Koreans, Korean adoptees, and ETAs who look Korean. I am one of the ETAs who looks Korean.

I shared the exchange that I had with my friend's coteacher to the group and I immediately broke down. I talked about how I feel like I'm living with a secret in Korea. The secret is that I'm also Japanese. If I were just Korean perhaps my secret would be that I'm American, but here it feels like it's shameful to be Japanese too. 

I don't have it all figured out yet, but it was really great to debrief and reflect on my experiences and the experiences my peers have had.

Up Next: My birthday/Picnic Day

On Deck: ???


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