Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The journey has just begun...

Four days left...

This trip has been an amazing opportunity, and unfortunately while our time here in Korea is quickly coming to an end, our journey has just begun. On this trip we've made lots of memories - traveling to different schools, visiting museums, and eating lots of food - but the biggest impact this trip has made on me already has been meeting and getting to know people, especially with the other 19 people in our travel group. 

While all of us got to know each other a little bit over the course of our spring course, there is only so much you can learn about a person during a two-hour, once a week, online course and even within the first few hours of this trip, over three weeks ago, we were learning new things about each other. I have always been told that you don't truly know someone until you spend all your time around them, and spending a month together in a foreign country can certainly speed along that process.
One of my last sunsets in Seoul enjoyed with friends

"The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them" - Amelia E. Barr

The above quote reminds me of just how important who you travel with can be just as important as where you are traveling to. For me, this experience would not have been as influential if not for my travel companions, our partners at the universities, and even the random people who came up to me on the street, whether they wanted to talk to me in English or just wanted to help if I was lost. 

If you had asked me a week ago where I wanted to look for teaching jobs post-graduation I would have said somewhere in the Northeast, not necessarily only in Pennsylvania but in that region. But now that I've had several serious conversations with our mentor teachers on this trip, learning all about their programs and the surrounding programs, this is the first time I've considered moving states away to teach. While I think I've always been open to moving for a teaching job, the distance I would go is much greater now than it was before. While I don't think I'm ready yet to consider moving across the ocean to teach, I am looking forward to visiting Florida and other states, learning about their agricultural education programs, expanding my net of possibilities. 

This experience has been eye-opening for me, not only in learning about the Korean culture, but also about our own, and how we look at and treat the people and world around us. Every encounter I've made while here has been a positive experience, and I think that all of us would agree that no matter whether it was the students we were micro-teaching, the university students we worked with, or the random strangers we met while wandering Insadong, we have learned more from each person we've met than I think we even know right now. 

The great group of people I've shared this experience with.
Creating friendships across the world has been amazing, and thanks to wonderful technology like Facebook and Twitter, we can stay updated on each other's lives very easily, but I am also looking forward to when we meet in person again. The other Penn State students and I will be around each other a lot even after we get off the plane, but I am looking forward to meeting up with all the teachers again come National FFA Convention in October, and maybe even a trip to Florida sometime soon. And maybe one day we'll even meet up in another foreign country, whether planned or chance. 

Going home at the end of this week will be great, but I know that I am already missing the wonderful friends I have made on this trip and the positive difference this experience has made on me is largely due to the people I've traveled with. While this Korean experience is coming to an end, our journey together spreading the message and importance of agricultural education has just begun.

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