Today was our first day of school. Although I am a Junior in college and all the kids are in middle school and high school, it felt like we were taking our first steps into a whole new experience. When I first saw all the kids again, it felt as if I hadn't seen them in ages, and I wanted to hear all their stories. Walking down the hallways, we were all welcomed in such a loving manner, and we were able to experience an authentic Korean classroom.
There was a welcoming ceremony with all the host sisters and brothers, along with Korean teachers and native American English teachers. Dr. Lee delivered a speech on how the world is becoming more globalized, and the purpose of the program was to create cultural change agents, and after talking with the group, I could see that we were learning many lessons and growing from them.
Luckily, we were able to have a brief session with all of the American students to share stories, address any issues and simply talk about the experience. Here are just some snippets of our conversation:
Dominic immediately set out to play basketball with his host brother and was thrown a welcoming party by his host family. He is sharing his love of music with everyone and all the Korean students call him the "singing machine."
Allie talked about how nice everyone has been to her and she's been taking a lot of pictures and practicing her Korean.
Sam is itching to run and I plan on going with her and hopefully I can keep up. Also, she received a compliment from a Korean boy of how pretty she was.
Miranda was thrilled to meet an American teacher who told her that two Korean students' American names were Sherlock and Watson. The teacher didn't see it coming. Also, her Hanna, Sam and Tevy all sang Karaoke for about 2 hours straight.
Tevy wishes she would have learned more Korean, but she is still very excited to be meeting everyone. Personally, I love her enthusiasm to interact with everyone she can.
Makela went to a water park yesterday, where she was able to swim in a pool of wine. No joke.
Meraf loves her host sister Ye Sa, who is in love with musicals. She was able to go to a spa, and got the full Korean experience.
Sadly we were scooted off to do Korean paper art, but although we only talked for about 10 minutes, I learned a lot.
One of the American teachers talked about how these experiences help you grow as a person, and showed a quote which I couldn't agree more with. It's by Oliver Wendell Holmes and it reads:
A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
Hanna, Dr. Lee and I aim to allow that to happen, and make it the most enjoyable, life-changing experience possible. Again, I am so proud of all these young adults, for they are beginning to grow into world citizens.
Tomorrow we go to Seoul, which I think will be another mind-stretching experience.
Pyung Hwa. (Peace)