Been living abroad for two years now and in the past year, perpetual race related prejudices, racial disparities and police brutality have been progressively getting worse throughout the United States.
You may have read in one of my previous posts that I am Tanzanian-American; however, I am still affected by these incidents that are happening in a place I consider my second home due to direct impact of colonialism living in Tanzania and racially influenced experiences living in America .
With what some may call as the genocide, and others may call the down right racially influenced, senseless killings of blacks people on a national scale in America, I'm trying to figure it out just as well. We can identify the root cause, the aftermath and its effect, but what's the solution?
I am stuck on what's next regardless of how many posts are encouraging black unity and attempts to re-instill black pride. This is not to take away the relevance and solidity in the message because it is powerful and often times very necessary, but I've come to learn time and time again, that "this" is so deeply rooted as systemic.
The last time I blogged was November of 2014. I have vlogged a few times since then about my life in Korea, but not much. It's currently July 2015 now, only 4 months shy from making it a full year. Sure, I have since written some personal and reflective pieces on my challenges, revelations, and growth, but for me and at this time, they're too private to share on my blog. It could be because of my struggle with vulnerability (I have a difficult time, privately and especially publicly, speaking on the true matters of my heart and sharing my most intimate thoughts). Granted, there will be some experiences that are too personal and should be kept private (you're the best judge of that) but it seems I am progressively becoming more and more reserved in what and who I share with. Perhaps that's just part of the process that naturally comes with maturing or a direct result of my inability to connect beyond the surface with most of the people I meet here.
Despite my reservations on what to share and not share publicly, I have been struggling with what at first seemed as writer's block. For months now, I have been unable to come up with anything to write. Even though I started this blog because of EPIK and my then, new journey of life in Korea, I am no longer with EPIK and this journey is no longer feeling "new." I'm sure there are plenty of blogs out there on what it's typically like working at a hagwon and because I've had so many frustrations working at mine and I'm still employed here, this may not be the appropriate time to express those frustrations. Living in Korea as a second year vet has made some of my most annoying cultural differences stand out a lot less , which makes me feel as though my experiences have become too casual to blog about.
Do people really want to know what it's like to get lost in Seoul? or how excited I was to discover Almond Breeze and how intrigued I am with (insert many weird fascinations here) ? In fact, I don't even think I want to give people full access to EVERYTHING that I do in Korea. Daily blogs and vlogs have never been my thing and maybe that may change in the future but I believe it's more likely not to (I'm sensitive with my energy consumption and expansion). Whatever this is, whether writer's block, loss of inspiration, or lack in creativity...it has seriously made me reconsider this blog and its purpose.
Part of me is a little sad at the thought of letting it go, especially considering how much of myself I have invested in it. It feels like I'm giving up on something that could possibly have so much potential to grow into something more than just a blog of my life here, but also serve as a platform for something else, even more purposeful. I also seem to have forgotten about those of you who are not necessarily interested in the general advice on how to work and live in Korea but in my personal experiences and bearing witness to the changes that take place in other areas of my life. I do have a few different ideas and projects in mind I'd like to work on and at least two more posts I'd like to share. Clearly, this seems to be just another reflection piece, considering that I'm in a place of transition with my job ending in September and being unsure of what's to come next. I'll keep you updated, in a another 6 or 7 months....seems to be my trend lately anyway!
1) Make quality friends. The quantity of friends does not help rid feelings of loneliness if you can't connect with them on a more personal and deeper level. You should have friends that you can spend time with as well as confide in when necessary to talk about more important issues, like how much you miss your family or certain places and things.
2) Make enough time for family. Although this seems like it would worsen that feeling but it hasn't been the case for me. Talk to your family as frequently as you'd like when your time and schedule permits. Being able to talk to my family whether via phone or Skype actually makes me feel closer to them rather than distant from them.
3) Focus on your purpose on why you are where you are. Why did you choose to come here? For work? for the experience? Even if that purpose is still unclear to you at the moment, don't spend too much energy asking why and try to experience as much as you can knowing your why will reveal itself to you. When you made the choice to travel, what were your initial reasons? Also, It's ok to be open to the possibility of romance but don't chase after it if was never a part of your plan to start with.
4) Perfect your craft and get to know yourself MORE. This is a time when you need to pick up more hobbies and work on sharpening your skills and talents. What haven't you tried that you want to try? What goals are you striving to meet and what steps can you take to attain them? Take advantage of this time and evaluate your life and purpose here in the present.
It's amazing how life works itself out. A few months ago I started applying for a teaching job overseas and as I was filling out the application, I realized that I hadn't done much before or during my College years (yikes!). I was one of those students who just went to class and participated in study groups here and there. I was nervous now because my resume looked dull and lifeless, and I wasn't sure if I'd be given a chance to even interview for them because of it, however, I continued on with my application and started volunteering at an Elementary school. Originally, my mission was to have something to put on paper but as time progressed, this volunteering opportunity began to change and I fell in love with the kids that all I wanted to do was spend as much time with them and help them as much as I possibly could. I then started substitute teaching at an alternative high school to gain more experience and within a few days of doing so my volunteering days had to come to an end due to the school needing a permanent teacher for the remainder of the school year. I suddenly found myself committing to being a full time teacher! Just the experience I needed to get me started in the field of Education but I found myself sad for leaving my cute little first graders behind and doubting if I had it in me to handle the task of teaching high school kids without any formal teaching experience, especially to kids who didn't want to learn, as that was the impression given to me by most of the teachers there. My first week was an expected challenge; they had to become familiar with having someone new with new rules and new methods of teaching. I was pleased that I never had to fight for their respect because I made sure to demonstrate it and give it back. I treated them as the individuals they were and not like a bunch of challenged kids with behavioral problems, suffering from mental and learning disabilities, no matter how true that may have been for most, if not, all of my students. I treated them the way I would have wanted someone to treat me if I were them, with understanding and a lot of patience. It didn't take long for me to see a difference in their reformed attitudes and improved grades. They started coming to class eager to get work done and catch up so they can transition back to a regular public high school. Almost every day a student or two would start self doubting themselves and instead of me telling them what they were used to hearing (how they're not going to make it in life) I would remind them how they had an opportunity just like any other 16 year old to change their life, if they chose to. A long with Math and Social Studies, I also taught them about the realities of life and encouraged them to want more for themselves and to fight for their future even if no one else believed in them. This message was easy for me to deliver because I too, was once a 16 year old who struggled with those very same demons.
I am so proud today of my class and to show just how proud I am, I have rewarded them with their favorite snacks and called home to let a parent or grandparent know how well they are doing in class. I have even acknowledged their efforts in front of colleagues because I need to see reformed attitudes from staff as well to really be able to reach these kids. An act of kindness doesn't have to be a tangible reward or gift, a simple "I'm proud of you" as a constant reminder is sufficient because the true meaning behind it is the message from one heart to another, an act of love, an unspoken "I care" statement.
I created a poll that asked people what they desire most in a potential partner and a good personality seemed to be the most popular choice. Having a good, likable personality is important for compatibility.
Personality, as defined through text, is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual's distinctive character. How can we judge someone's characteristics without judging our own first? How can we say we want someone humble yet we ourselves are chronic complainers? How can we say we want someone who's caring but we're too selfish to care about anyone else other than ourselves? So before we go looking for people who have nice personalities, have you checked yours yet?
These are the kind of things we often don't pay attention to because they're hard to see, but not impossible. We shouldn't have to wait for someone to point out these crooked places before we start fixing them straight.