Monday, October 17, 2011

A Day at the Orphanage.

The gorgeous photos on this post were brought to you by Sharad Shiv Shandil.
Life as a non-student working only three hours a day and making plenty might seem awesome. And it is, usually. But honestly, it can start to feel monotonous and rather unfulfilling as time goes on. I like to be productive. And I like to be busy, no matter how much money I'm making. I just think it makes you appreciate your free time that much more. Maybe it's a complex, having grown up in a workaholic culture. Or maybe it's just my nature. I haven't had just one job in a very long time. It's strange.

I think a lot of foreigners in Korea handle this by drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Or maybe Korea just attracts these sorts of foreigners. I haven't really decided yet. But I'm leaning more towards the first. It's the Korean drinking culture, the free time, the need to lean on other people who speak your language. It draws one to the bar. All my friends are going to the bar tonight to unwind? Ok, I'll come. This becomes the onset, at least, after you've been here a while and maybe the "honeymoon stage" has worn off and you've seen much of what there is to see (You've never seen it all though, no matter how much you've seen.)

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think drinking or bar-hanging is a bad thing. In moderation, anyhow. But when it starts to become one's primary past time, that's when things become questionable. I'm surrounded by too many alcoholics to not begin to question it. Both Korean and non-...

It starts to suck you in, that's for sure. I have friends who weren't drinkers before they came to Korea; now they are. I've tried to battle the urge by joining a gym, working more on art projects, writing, and just staying busy with hobbies. And I'm grateful I've had the TIME for hobbies. But I also started volunteering, and I have to say -- it's been some of the most exceptional time I've spent thus far in Korea. I think a lot of us come here with the thought -- whether it be a tiny inkling in the backs of our minds or right there in the forefront -- that we want to make a difference while we're here, may it be a subtle change or an enormous one. And the truth is, no matter how good or bad of a teacher we are, we do. Just our presence -- seeing a non-Korean in a rural town in Korea -- is broadening our students' minds. But there are opportunities to do much more, if we in fact decide to pursue them. (And let's face it... the "foreigner in Korea" stereotype isn't exactly a positive one. So many people generalize as it is (Korean folks included), and when you have those crazy waygookin out there making fools of themselves, they're casting a negative light on all of us, really. So let's work toward projecting a more accurate representation of ourselves. After all, you know you're not just a loud, obnoxious, and inappropriate party whore! ...unless, of course, you are.)

Some of my friends in the Andong Volunteers Association recently invited me to join. The group formed from a few foreign English teachers and their Korean co-teachers who wanted to somehow make a difference in the community, as well as bring together the various cultures and ethnicities living amongst, yet rather separately from one another. Earlier in the year, the group put on some downtown events to raise money for the local orphanage, as well as share our culture with the Korean community, through music and activities. As Fall approached, however, we finally put that hard-earned money to good use and had a Fall festival for the kids who deserved it the most.

Some of the activities at the Gyeong An Children's Home included face-painting, animal balloon- and flower-making, and games. Lots of games. 

I was in charge of tatting the kids up. My tattoo says "America...n." The "n" seemed as if it were an after-thought when the tattoo was being made. It was too good to NOT end up on my deltoid.


During one of the group games, this baby girl started crying because she had lost. I couldn't help myself. I pulled her onto my lap and hugged her until her eyes dried. I helped her unwrap her lollipop and that was all it took -- we were best buds for life. She started tickling me and I was ready to adopt her right then and there.

One of the gals in the group even made an Angry Birds pinata! It looked so great and the kids had a marvelous time whacking at it until candy spilled out everywhere. It was awesome to be able to show them some of the games we play in our country.

When it came time to wrap up the day and chow down on pizza, I was immediately and quite literally dragged to the kids table by two little boys. I swear I will never escape the kids table! It has haunted me at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, as well as at family reunions. I feel like I will never make it to the adult table, no matter how old I am! The little boys kept asking me for some of my coffee, so I poured a few drops on their pizza and they absolutely loved it.  
Hmmm...I suppose maybe I am fit for the kids table.

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." 
-Margaret Mead

1 comment:

  1. We are planning to visit Krabi in mid-Dec.
    Thank you for posting.



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