Friday Short: Dreams, go-getters, and me.

Dreams, go-getters, and me. 

In college, I was a dreamer. I was about six weeks into my first semester of college in August 2008 when I resurrected the middle school dream to be a PhD in English. It was a full-blown resurrection, and from that moment, I had PhD stars in my eyes: even as I walked across the sacred grass at graduation 4 years later.

Surprisingly, this month marks my six month graduation from Georgetown College. Six months later, I’ve decided that I want to teach in the United States for at least a year before pursuing graduate studies. I’ve done something I thought I would never do: put off graduate school a little bit longer. It feels like even though I’ve made the right decision, I’ve derailed my own perfect life plan. The one I worked so hard to plan in college.

In addition to derailing my own plans, while here in Korea, I often feel that as a teacher, I’m just a dreamer. Not necessarily a go-getter. I had these big plans of making all the differences and changes in Korea, while sometimes, I find myself in self-imagined rut. I see all of my other friends posting updates like “My kids are using the English I taught them!” or “My kids are all winners at speaking competitions!” or “I’ve started an English Club where everybody speaks English and it’s great and lovely and everybody is perfect and by golly, it’s sunny outside.”

Most days I don’t even know if my students have learned a darned thing or if the only thing they remember is the YouTube video I showed them. Therefore, in Korea, I often feel like a dreamer, not a doer. I sometimes feel like that all I am in life is a planner. The planner that sits at her desk, makes lessons, and listens to George Strait videos on YouTube.

Do I dislike teaching? Absolutely not. I thank the Lord everyday that I am in Korea, as it has been one of the best decisions of my life. If Korea has given me anything, it’s the ability to look inside and know that I have the ability to step outside of the dreamscape and become a doer.

Geon bae!

Sarah

 

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5 thoughts on “Friday Short: Dreams, go-getters, and me.

  1. When I was your age, I graduated from West Virginia University with the big dream of being the next, great NASCAR reporter. I ended up as a struggling news reporter who could not make the transition from sports to news. When I left the newspapers for public policy, I thought I was on the fast track to a career in D.C. I realized that there wasn’t anything there for me, and I was really running from a deeper passion and calling.

    I say all of that to say this: We all have dreams and we all struggle with seeing progress. At the same time, it’s easy to look at the “successes” of others and measure ourselves according to what they are doing. We all do that. As a pastor, it is tempting to look at the attendance measures of other churches in our district and say, “What am I doing wrong?”

    They key is to stay true to who you are and do the best that you can. Your students will appreciate it and you will see fruit. Persevere for the race worth running.

    • Fulbright tells us consistently: “Don’t compare!,” but often, it’s so hard not to when everyone else seems so successful!

      I grew up in Mackville my whole life thinking “I’m going to college, I’m going to do big things, and I’m going get out of this one-horse town.” Now that I’m out of college, out of town, and working a steady schedule with a paycheck, I often find myself desiring a “regular” 9 to 5 life in a quiet little town like Mackville upon my return.

      This is terrifying for me, especially since I spent a good 18 years of my life scheming on how to get out of Washington Co,, how to get the next academic degree, how to do the next big thing. Though I am still coping with the “How did my mind change like this?” shock, I’ve learned that sometimes, our dreams aren’t quite what we thought they were.

      • Or, perhaps, the dreams might be refocused into something else. I think many of us who grew up in small towns (southern West Virginia here) desire to move out of that so we can experience the world. Remember, you are still processing what it is you want from life. That takes time. I was 25 or 26 before I realized I was called to be a pastor.

        Embrace what scares you and allow Christ to speak into that. It could be you are homesick. It could be you want to be in a smaller community. Who knows. But, have no fear … you are traveling well on the journey.

  2. We all have those moments, I think, Sarah. Or at least I do! I often see those same status updates on Facebook about concrete learning objectives being met and students learning lots of English, and then here I am just trying to have them speak English at all, let alone a new grammar point or vocabulary. There’s only so much you can do seeing students once a week. It’s those time I listen to the “cultural ambassador” mantra that reverberates in our heads from time to time as ETAs. Haha.

    You’re doing great. And also, kudos to you for keeping up your blog so well! Hope to see you soon.

    Tyler

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Tyler!

      You’re most certainly right about the cultural ambassador bit. Sometimes I just remind myself that I’m here to represent the United States as an English teacher. I have found that that might include a new grammar point, but it may include a simple smile. English mastery or not, if my students can look back years from now and have fond memories of my classes, I consider that a success. Hope to see you in Seoul for Thanksgiving!

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