Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First World Problems

Living in the US in an affluent neighborhood means a couple of things. I definitely have a lot of first world problems. They're trivial problems for the most part, like watching a channel you don't really like because the remote is all the way on the other side of the living room or having your mom always use your sink. I had such an amazing experience this summer. There's pictures in earlier posts as well as mentions every now and then. I haven't done just a blog post about what I felt and actually experienced though.

I didn't want to go on this trip. I go to Korea once a year and that is very often and I know that. I know so many less fortunate people who haven't ever seen their cousins or haven't been able to go visit their homeland. I still wish I could spend more time with my family though because even once a year is a terribly short time. A lot happens in a year and it feels like I only catch glimpses of my cousins' lives. I'm a presence that flickers in their life, entering and leaving just long enough for them to say my name a couple times. I wanted to spend more time with my family. I was going to a city called Ulsan. Ulsan is in the countryside but it's the 7th richest city in Korea because there's a lot of factories and industrial buildings there. I didn't see the need for me to teach English there when they all went to private tutoring centers. It wasn't like I was helping children in poverty.
I complained to my parents way before the trip was even planned. I complained while on the plane and made my parents feel guilty every time I said something like "I wish I could spend more time with grandma." Ulsan is about two hours away and on the long train ride there, my unhappiness was all I could talk about. I arrived and the first few days were great. I was with a couple people from my church because the rest were arriving later. We were just preparing and there really wasn't that much to do. I didn't feel stressed and it was like a vacation within a vacation. It was really fun when everyone came and we played games and ate really good food.
Then the actual program started. It was chaotic and none of our plans were working out. I was saddled with obnoxious sixth graders and every other group would pass me with a bit of pity. They would walk away quickly from me just in case my group's disorderly manner would pass to them. I was a personal mess as well because I didn't know how to deal with these kids. I was promised that I would be taking care of kindergarteners. The program consisted of a two hour Vacation Bible Study program and an hour and a half of English class. None of the kids were in the right level of English class because the church with whom we were working with decided not to have the kids take the test that we sent to them. We decided to analyze their English skills by having a brief conversation with the kids but that totally backfired on us. Miscommunication was everywhere and it was the worst two days ever.
I was a strict rule follower and my voice was practically gone by the third day. I was screaming and yelling and making the kids follow ALL of the rules. By the third day I had their respect which was a really satisfying reward.
Needless to say, I learned a ton from this experience. I learned that you can't just give a kid what they want. With enough patience, rewards, and yelling kids will listen to you. You just can't give up on them. Having strict rules and yelling is tough. Letting them run around and be crazy is a lot easier than making them follow all the nitty gritty rules. I also learned that all kids are good kids inside and just enjoy messing with you and testing your boundaries. They all have the potential to follow directions. I seriously didn't think I'd miss any of them but I do. I left my heart there. One week is a short time but it's definitely long enough to make a lasting impact.
If you want something, truly want something, then you have to work for it. Not everything is like a restaurant where a nice waiter will ask you politely if you want your eggs sunny side up or poached. Not all people are fortunate enough to have the things we consider a necessity, like the iPhone 5. I would’ve been really sad to have spent my summer anywhere other than this small, undeveloped city. It really does pay off to help other people, even if it’s just to retrieve the TV remote from the coffee table.


And just to wrap everything up, here is a video from Nigahiga about first world problems. Enjoy! xx


PS: I'm looking for cool blogs to follow so comment below if you have a blog that you want me to check out :) 

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