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On To My Next Decade In South Korea

The 2nd of March (2023) marks the completion of my first decade here in South Korea. My heart is bursting with gratitude for having been given the chance to work and live here for the past ten years. I could not thank God enough for guiding me and helping me find a niche most suitable for my personal and professional growth. I am forever indebted to Dr. Mark Celis and Dr. Larry Chong for considering me qualified to teach paving the way for my entry to this country via Gyeongju University. A lot of thanks also to Dr. Sheri Slick and Mr. Damon Osburn for opening the doors of Hanseo University (where I have been teaching since 2014)  for me.

Salute to the universities aforementioned for believing that teaching English should not be made exclusive to citizens from native English-speaking countries. Thanks to the universities here in South Korea for believing that Filipinos like me can teach English. In my 10 years here in South Korea, I did a “quiet comparative analysis” of ESL teachers from those “seven countries” and mine. I focused my comparison on the areas of pedagogy, professionalism, and attitude. My findings… universities here in South Korea and elsewhere should seriously reconsider their policy of hiring teachers from the said countries only.

Teaching overseas is in the list of my career choices ever since. It was part of my career pathing. I prepared and trained for it. Eventually, I decided to take this path for three reasons – “greener pasture,” job burnout, and a personal demon that I had to slay.

Many of my loved ones and friends considered my going to South Korea  a bad move. I had a great career in my country and the pay was not bad. I had other sources of income as well. They considered it unwise for me to still want to work here. But as I said, I wasn’t just seeking financial stability. I really got tired of my previous jobs supervising people and doing administrative work. I wanted to just teach and pursue my other passion – writing.

I was really at the crossroads of my career at that time and it did not help that I was also suffering from a personal crisis. I felt I had to do something. I had to do one life-altering decision. I was like Jake Sully, the main character in the movie “Avatar”  saying, “Sometimes your whole life boils down to one insane move.” So, I made the move. I decided to come here. As it turned out, this country is the perfect place for me tame a “toruk makto.” Not that mythological creature in the movie but MYSELF.

Honestly, the past ten years were the most productive years of my life personally and professionally speaking. God willing, I would still like to spend the next ten years of my life here. This country has become  my second home. It has been a channel of blessings for me and my family. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for this country, its people, and the two universities that granted me the opportunity to serve.

We are required to render only 19 hours of work weekly staggered in a 4-day period. There are 168 hours in a week. Imagine the amount of free time that we teachers have here in the university where we are teaching. We don’t even work for a total of roughly 5 months (but we still get paid) because of the winter and summer breaks. So, how did I spend my free time in the past 10 years?  

Given all the free time that I had in the years past, I was able to pursue my other passion vigorously – writing.  I was able to create not just 1 but 3 websites.  Last year, I created 2 YouTube channels. Those websites and channels are my workshops – they serve as my training ground and a haven for self-expression. In addition, almost yearly that I was able to finish research works that were either presented in international conferences or published in indexed journals (or both). Those free time also allowed me to pursue “self-improvement” both as a personal activity and advocacy and… to count my blessings.

My journey will continue. I will tread the same path that I have been treading in my next years here in South Korea. My desire to achieve my full potential as a person and as a professional is a torch that will remain lit to brighten that path.

To God be the glory.

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