Thursday, August 9, 2007

Saying Goodbye

Our time in Korea comes to an end on Tuesday the 14th, and our last day of work for over a year is under 6 hours away from being complete. Our time in this small country has been absolutely wonderful. The places we've gone, the people we've met, the experiences we've been fortunate enough to enjoy and the memories we have made here in South Korea have left an impression upon us that won't soon dissipate.

For over a month now we've been slowly working away at our 5 piles (things to send home, things to sell, things to give away, things to leave here and things to pack for our travels), and finally we're getting close to whittling everything down to fitting in our two travel backpacks. Cody says the mess in our apartment has downsized from 'nuclear' to 'napalm' to 'hurricane' in the past three days alone. Impressive.

Our great staff, whose company we've enjoyed so much and who we'll miss in the months to come.

One thing that has been the toughest to say goodbye to has been the friends we've worked with over the past two years. We were extremely lucky to have 10 other foreigners to work with, who were not only our sounding boards and moral support when needed, but also our camping partners, soccer, ultimate and basketball teammates, our wine-tasting amis and 10 more reasons to look forward to heading in to work every day. With 8 of us leaving after today, we wish the remaining 4 the best of luck in building the wonderful closeness we've enjoyed so much in the past years!

Parting with our Pride, and its new proud owner - Casey from Jeonju.

Our nice little car has driven us 40,000 km around this country, affording us looks into places many foreign teachers don't have the luxury to peer into. Up mountains and through tunnels, across bridges and into snow storms, our travels in Korea have opened our eyes to what this country has to offer!

One of our friends, Mr. Yu with Ha-yeon, his darling daughter.

Our Korean friends have taught us innumerable things about the Korean people and culture and have helped explain things during the usual times of bafflement you get when you live in a foreign country. We've come from knowing nothing about Korea except about the Korean War to having a fairly solid understanding of what makes this country tick, and what makes their people so fiercely patriotic. This understanding will in turn help us grasp the deeper meanings of the changes we'll see in this country in the years to come, whether that be union with their fellow Koreans to the North, or another amazing economic spurt.

Certainly times are changing here like they are elsewhere, the younger generation beginning to fight against the older's grasp on things. Like the first generation without war in the Western world has made huge inroads into changing the social and cultural landscape there, so this first generation without war will do the same. With such a deeply Confucian system, however, that change will take longer to play out, and indeed it may take until the next generation for things to radically change.

We've been so fortunate in the experiences South Korea has afforded us. Emily has finished a Master's Degree in Oriental Studies, and learned about Asian culture and religion from teachers who grew up with these values. That experience cannot be done in Canada. Her thesis is now finished printing and editing, so if you'd like a copy, she'll be more than happy to send you a copy through email! I have also been fortunate in having my eyes opened to conservation and shorebird counting. The experiences I have had with Nial, Birds Korea and through the involvement in the SSMP have changed the roles Emily and I now play in the greater society, and given us cause to stop and think about how fragile the world around us is, and how necessary it is for us to change our behaviour.

As you know, we're heading to Mongolia first, where we'll be for 10 days until we meet up with Mom and Dad Styles in Beijing on the 25th of August. The adventure begins. As internet will be as spotty as sit down toilets and hot showers while traveling, we will not be updating the blog every day. We do aim, however, to update once a week, hopefully on Mondays, to keep you abreast of our travels. So, check in on us every once in a while, and please send us emails more often than that:)) Take care, and we hope this finds you happy and healthy.

1 comment:

fran said...

We wish you happy travels and congratulate you on the many successes over there in Korea. Special congrats to Em on the completion of her degree. We look forward to checking in for updates on your ventures and look forward to having you home in 2008. All is well here in Vernon. Love to you both. fran and harvey