I woke up this morning with the buzz and dings from my various devices going off. My blurry eyes focussed on the sentence “I am sorry to have to tell you this but Dave passed away this morning….” I scrambled to turn on the computer as if checking my email would somehow make things different. Sadly, as my brain reread the messages and the new ones that followed, it was becoming clear. I just lost my best friend.
If you are wondering why I am writing such a personal post on what should be a photography blog about photography in and around Korea, well Dave was the reason that I came to Korea and even started into photography. He taught me so much in the first few years and was responsible for my first major accomplishment in the field. I would not be the man I am today if it were not for him.
I'm into my final hours here in Korea and yes I'm excited to go and also sad at the same time. It's been a wonderful ride and I am grateful for it all.
I think I have said everything I could about this transition and finally just want to say thank you to my readers and supporters. I know for sure my time in Korea would have been harder if I didn't have this blog and community.
For all future updates on my life and adventures head over to the American-Joy blog. :)
My way of saying goodbye with the Girl Scouts singing "Taps":
Today I went to my school to pay my housing bills and as I waited for my supervisor in the office the Vice President started to talk to me. No worries, she is a sweet older woman who has complimented me in the past. She wanted to know when I was leaving, and when I told her, "tomorrow" she was astonished. She even asked if that was next week's tomorrow. She knew I had been in Korea five years and asked me if I had a boyfriend or was married. All questions that receive a "no" answer. But I reassured her I was fine and was heading back home to be a student to learn more about teaching.
We did hug goodbye.
I'm sitting here with three bags packed to the brim and can't believe it's my last night in Korea. Five years ago I came here with wide eyes and an open heart. I experienced so much, went through so many tribulations and made amazing memories. Now it's ending minute by minute and the hardest part is knowing I will be far away from it all.
Those are a pair of shoes that I have worn every since I came to Korea. They have been my work shoes, because you change your shoes when you go to work here. I always said to myself I would get a different pair but I never bothered. They have seen me through 1 hagwon, 2 public schools and this last one. These shoes have taken me through a lot of drama and hard times, but also through fun experiences as well. I'm not going to take them back with me, so I suppose they can live here in Korea.
In addition to the video I made for my students I am planning to give each one a personalized card with a treat. In each card is a personal written note that touches on my experience with them and wishes for their future. I've also stepped it up a notch by glueing in a small picture of myself into the card. I figured a percentage will throw it out, but there might be a bunch that hold on to it.
For the girls I got them a card with a red heart and yellow frame on it. Inside it says, "I love you" around it so I figured the girls won't freak out as much, as say the boys would.
As part of a package of things I will be giving to my students to say goodbye to them, I made this video. It's a collection of photos and videos from our various field trips over the past two years. There was a lot I could put in but I narrowed it down to the following that you will see. I'm not looking forward to my last class time with the kids, because they really gave me the strength and inspiration to be a teacher. But I hope this video and my other gifts will leave a lasting memory in their hearts.
It came without notice today, one of our students is leaving the school. What makes this more special than other times is that this students was let's say a star. But not in a great and brilliant shining way, more like he was the constant trouble maker. Indeed, last year he would use his physical self to hurt other students without much regret. This year he used words and threats more, which I guess was an improvement. But despite him being a bully, rude and just hard to manage I actually became fond of this kid. I think what happened was finding a way to manage him in class and also be his friend at the same time. Also when he was behaving well and giving constructive output in the class I enjoyed his participation.